Looks like the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project didn’t quite meet its rather massive target of 3 million laptops in 365 days, set back in November 2008: OLPC India head Satish Jha tells the Hindu that they’re targeting 1 million for 2010. Apparently, orders for 150,000 XO laptops have been placed by Kerala, and 350,000 by the Gujarat government, but in total, only 2000 units have been sold in the country. So there’s a difference between ‘orders being placed’, and XO’s being purchased. Last year, Jha had told MediaNama that orders for 250,000 XOs had been placed by Indian state governments. OLPC primarily targets governments and corporates as direct buyers for purchasing the device, since retailing adds significantly to cost.
Interestingly, Nicholas Negroponte, founder for the OLPC Foundation wrote an open letter to the Indian government, offering India with free and open access to all their technology, willing to collaborate. Remember that India had recently showcased a tablet which can cost as low as $35, but as with previous such announcements, not many had got their hands on it yet, and strangely enough, not many tech journalists I know have seen or tried the device. The secrecy around the device obviously makes one rather suspicious, particularly given the fact that the $10 “laptop” which was unveiled earlier turned out to be nothing more than a USB drive.
Negroponte’s open letter reads a little like a pitch, using the opportunity to highlight what the foundation is trying to do with the OLPC – focus on primary school children; constructionism, not rote, and don’t make a device for consumption, but creation; let it be rugged, low on power consumption, fun, inexpensive, but not cheap. But it also offers India full access to OLPCs technology, free of cost.
Perhaps its time that India, photographs not-withstanding, quelled scepticism and proved that they indeed have a tablet that may at some time cost $35. The world has apparently already stopped taking this seriously.