Friday, March 30, 2007

Hold Those Purchase Orders! $200 Laptops Coming Soon To US!?

After a long series of rumors and false-starts concerning distribution of the OLPC "$100 Laptop" (now known as the "XO") in the US, the Financial Times reported today that Quanta, manufacturer of the XO, will market a low cost commercial laptop in the developed world. The hardware will be based on the XO, and since the XO's software is all free software, it will be available in the commercial laptop. Presumably a version of Windows Embedded will also likely be an option.

One thing this highlights is Quanta's confidence in their XO prototypes and process. I was able to spend some time with an XO last month at PyCon, and the laptop is physically impressive. It feels like it is going to work. On the other hand, the reality of the processor and memory restrictions sink in a bit; it seems likely that Quanta will be more willing to bump up the processor and memory a bit than OLPC is planning to do. A processor with a level two cache would be nice, for example.

Quanta don't do any retail sales at all right now that I'm aware of. If they do any it isn't in the US. I would guess that they'll do something very minimal and low-cost for sales and marketing, such as only offering limited configurations through a web site.

Regardless, this is big, big news, which is likely to turn the educational technology market upside down over the next five years. I can't wait.


Anonymous said...

Interesting (disruptive) news.

Tom Hoffman said...

Yes! This is literally a "disruptive innovation" as defined by Clayton Christensen.