Friday, October 05, 2007

Pogue OLPC Article a Landmark

David Pogue's glowing review of the XO laptop in the Times is a big deal. He's probably the #2 personal computing columnist in the US, after Mossberg, and he's just given the XO his stamp of approval for use by US kids. Remember here that this is David Pogue we're talking about. He's a Mac guy. You can search in vain for his articles about Linux on He likes things that work intuitively; he hasn't made his career turning people on to idealistic projects that don't actually work.

So... the stage is set for a very quick sell out of the first 25,000 XO's made available for order in the US come November. What comes after that is anyone's guess. As long as they can keep the production lines running at Quanta, the project can stay alive. I think they'll find a way to do that. With a substantial consumer market proven in the US, it seems virtually guaranteed.


poguenyt said...

Hey, great post--Many thanks!

However, you won't search in vain for Linux articles I've written. Go to, click in the Search box, and type "pogue Linux."

Only 24 articles, I know--you absolutely right that I write for the mainstream audience--and only a couple of them are ABOUT Linux--but they're there! :)

But like I say, that's nitpicky--I really appreciated your assessment!!


Gnuosphere said...

"So... the stage is set for a very quick sell out of the first 25,000 XO's made available for order in the US come November."

If I don't get my 4 (divided by 2) I'll be pissed. :)

I'm camping out (virtually) on the 12th to make sure I'm near the front of the line. If all else fails, I'll just walk on over to Quanta...

Tom Hoffman said...

Yeah, it is going to be a little crazy. Luckily it seems like eBay will be handling the sales (they're a partner and the images on the Give1Get1 site are hosted on their servers), so at least the servers probably won't go down.

pd said...

Sent you an email along these same lines. I've got a huge budget for the library this year, to be spent while I'm playing on sabbatical. I've followed your OLPC posts for a long time and caught David P's NYT piece (my first iPod vidCast), and the combo made me think I could do much, much worse than buying 40 for my library and in the process donating 40 with our Prop H funding to where they're even more needed. I know, I know, it's not "one per child" but "one per visitor" might just work. Unfortunately, I bet the window for US school purchases won't open until my budget time line closes. Sigh. The idea of net-connected laptops with a 6 hour battery and the ability to bounce for my electricity-poor, space-crunched library is such a nice dream.

Tom Hoffman said...

No, I don't think they'll be available in time for you. I would point out that you're suggesting just the kind of thing Andy Carvin is afraid of (and I poo-poo-ed as being impractical).

Wayan said...

Pogue may be all that and a slice of apple pie too, but the G1G1 program was going to sell out its 25,000 XO laptops in record time regardless of his opinion.

There are too many smart tech lust geeks in the USA not to.

Tom Hoffman said...

I don't know that a $400 XO is such a great deal to the maker crowd, considering the cheap microcontrollers available these days. I mean, I don't doubt that these would sell out regardless, but I don't think it will be because it is a unique opportunity to access cheap hackable hardware.

Bill Kerr said...

I thought this article on OLPCNews, 10 Reasons Why Negroponte Should Change OLPC Distribution by Alexandre Van de Sande, effectively challenged the whole concept of only selling millions of units to third world governments:

* Many third world governments are corrupt and populist
* The real DO-ERS are local enthusiasts, NGO's, eccentric billionares and early adopters. Best to use them.
* Selling in thousands, rather than millions, achieves critical mass and better logistics.

Tom Hoffman said...

I don't really know. I think sales on the national level is a compelling idea, and certainly worth a shot. But ultimately I have no clue if it would work. And certainly if it does/would work in one, it probably wouldn't work in others.

I am dubious about relying on philanthropy and NGO's, but hey, whatever works.

One thing is for sure, OLPC isn't going to throw the laptops in the wood chipper because their ideal distribution scenario doesn't work out.

Bill Kerr said...

the video within the pogue article is very well done - just mentioning this in case you didn't check it out