Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The $100 Laptop–Still Not a Bargain?

With all the holiday hubbub, don’t miss this great piece in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend by Steve Stecklow and James Bandler, which chronicles the bumpy road of the much-hyped $100 laptop project, spearheaded by MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte.

olpc

Walt Mossberg and I have had Negroponte at two of our D conferences to talk about the effort (pictured above), which is a great idea in concept, although a much more vexing challenge in reality.

Negroponte’s goal in 2005, which turned into a project called “One Laptop Per Child,” was simple and profound: Create a $100 laptop with interactive and connected capabilities to distribute to 150 million of the world’s poorest schoolchildren in developing countries.

Unfortunately, he is likely to fall well short of that goal now, due to unexpected and stiff competition from for-profit tech companies (most specifically the OLPC frozen-out and miffed Intel and Microsoft), too-high pricing for the product and the need for long-term technical support for its users.

“I’m not good at selling laptops,” Mr. Negroponte is quoted in the article as telling colleagues. “I’m good at selling ideas.”

And here’s the video that goes with the Journal story on OLPC:


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik