The picture speaks, a bunch of cambodian school children standing outside their yellow school building raising their laptops over their heads. MIT Media Labs is planning to do just that by trying to develop a $100 laptop. [via Daily Wireless and Digital Divide Network]
We've heard it all before 'a initiative' a they say that will 'revolutionalize' technology and 'bridge the technology divide' and all that jazz.
Will they Deliver ?
In the past several people and institution have tried to bridge the technological divide with innovative ideas they all seemed to loose their fizz after the initial buzz and media hype.
Failure in Example: Simputer - A litle to expensive.
Let's the example Picopeta's famed Simcomputer Project.The Simcomputer project was launched 4 years ago in India to develop a low-cost handheld meant to provide computing power to farmers in developing countries
India's Simcomputer : Yet to deliver
A recent article in the Washington Post, Handheld Computer Yet to Reach the Masses rues the failure of this ambitious project.
It [the article] points out that
Picopeta has sold fewer than 2,000 units in the past 12 months, far below the target of 50,000. Worse, only 10 percent of those Simputers were bought for rural use
The stumbling block the simputer is that 200$ thats about Rs 13,000 it's a little too expensive for the purpose of its development.
100$s Seems Right
The first think that came to mind when I heard of the 100$ laptop was the 1 lakh* Rupee car Tata Motors is trying to develop. [* 1 lakh = 100,000, roughly 2,300$s]
100$s seems like the right price but this to fit a internet ready, full-color, full-screen laptop in 100 dollars is not easy.
According to Nicholas Negroponte, Lab chairman and co-founder of MIT Media Labs tell us what he's going to put in it
- First, by driving the display cost below $25. We are exploring five different options for this, looking at possibilities such as projected image or roll-to-roll printed display. Projection is the primary candidate at this time, and will bring the cost of an approximately 12" diagonal display to below $20. E-Ink, invented at the Media Lab, is another option.
- Second, we will get the fat out of the systems. Today's laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third, which mostly does the same functions nine different ways.
- Third, we will market the laptops in very large numbers (millions), directly to ministries of education, which can distribute them like textbooks.
If MIT Media Labs does everything right and with patners like Google, AMD, and News Corp, there finnally a coalition that could tackle digital divide like no other.
Hope they're sucsessful.