One Laptop Per Child Foundation gets $5.6 million from Marvell to build an Android tablet

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation, a group that I’ve criticized in the past because they think giving children a laptop will immediately solve their problems versus something more useful like a bag of rice and malaria vaccinations, has received $5.6 million from Marvell to design an Android tablet based around their chipset solutions. That’s certainly one way to buy yourself a customer, and while Marvell may be attracting a large customer, pending the OLPC Foundation actually ships something versus spending all day posting pretty concept videos on YouTube, the margins are going to be so thin that it isn’t going to make a difference whether 1 million of these tablets get sold or 1 billion.

Back before netbooks, if you can even remember that far, the OLPC folks set a goal of making a laptop that would cost $100. The private sector, fearing for their lives since they wanted to maintain the already minuscule profits they were making on laptops, jumped head first into the battle with what today we now know as a netbook. The goal of $100 was never reached, and instead of building a product for the children in emergine economies, the netbook became a toy for rich white people who want a second computer to carry around with them so that they’re never away from Facebook, Twitter, and every other social network that strokes their ego into believing that they just may be someone important.

Amazon made the Kindle less than $150, and that price will undoubtedly drop to under $100 by next year and possibly $50 within this decade. There’s little doubt that Taiwanese manufacturers, in order to compete with Apple, will build tablets that cost $300 to $400 and like everything else in the technology industry, that price will come down with time. So sorry One Laptop Per Child, you may as well take that $5.6 million and teach African children how to properly irrigate crops and use protection as to not spread AIDS. What exactly is giving those kids access to Wikipedia going to do if they can’t even live to experience their 5th birthday?

  • jerry

    This post is quite stupid, petty, arrogant, but mostly illogical.

    Illogical in that it suffers from the fallacy of the excluded middle.

    The OLPC folks are a bunch of computer geeks — they don’t know how to grow rice from personal experience, but they can hook you up to the Wikipedia and you can find that out and more. It is illogical for you to demand they shutdown their project and instead take their time and resources and careers and commit themselves to teaching the poor how to grow rice.

    And it’s not like those organizations don’t exist and aren’t working with people who are better suited and more knowledgeable in that arena.

    It’s nonsense to suggest their time would be better spent doing anything other than what they do best.

    And what have you done Stefan? And what has intomobile done?

    Since you’re busy slamming them for what they haven’t done, why are you still crapping out your whinge fests about something so peripheral as mobile phones?

    Pick up a damn shovel son, and get your ass to an African village.

    • Hoofedone26

      I fully believe (as I post this from my expensive iPad) that starving children should receive 2 laptops each. The reason I say this is so that the 2 children born after they die at let’s say 5 years old from some weird disease or starvation will have a laptop that way we can provide.for the “future generations” see now that is thinking ahead. And just some food for thought… If a country took this long and still hasn’t developed into something that can at least struggle and still stay alive then we just need to leave them all be and let nature runs it’s course eventually the gross over population, starving children / people and disease will eventually run it’s course and the ones who were meant to survive will undoubtedly turn the country or area into something much more liveable.

      I’m sorry but throwing money at these situations don’t help, they make matters worse. Eventually the people will start to rely on donations.

      And also whether it’s against religion law or culture they need to eat the animals that are running around which should generally take care of starvation……. And castration for over population. I’m fully interested to see everyones comments on the subject based off of my own comment.

      Feel free to debate that without calling me names and all that bs give me legitimate arguments to support

  • Sandor

    I think Stefan addresses some valid points here.
    These laptops are really only useful when a lot of basic needs have already been fulfilled.
    Remember Maslov? I don’t think these children are interested in going online with their OLPC gadget much while problems of safety, potable water, food and protection against illness are not solved first.

  • sholtz778

    I second Jerry’s comment.

    In reality there are many levels of poverty and many ways to help kids all over the world. Projects to get out food/water/shelter are underway, as are other communication/education projects. OLPC just augments that. (True, the name “One Laptop Per Child” sounds like overreaching, but it’s just a catchy name. Communities which would benefit the most from a OLPC deployment are actually being prioritized.)

    Stephan, please let us know if you have seen enough impoverished communities up close, studied their day-to-day problems to be able to say that there is no place for a program like OLPC. It sounds like your only exposure to impoverished children has been through a Sally Struthers ad.

  • Dragon

    I agreed with what Stefan said completely. The OLPC is a feel-good project for these professors and scientist. If they are self funded, it would be a good hobby for them and cause no concern to others. But, if they are taking money from donations and grants, these resources could haver better been used by other more legitimate approaches to improve the living conditions of those children.

  • Tinktron

    Stefan, you really ought to flush that prejudiced mindset that all African or other third world children are dirt poor, starving, and too stupid to use the technology you thrive on. You should also go back to school to learn what investing in people really means, in today’s world. At this level, it is talking about knowledge, access, and tools.
    There are many organizations providing bags of rice, medicine, and sex ed., and they are finding out what every cattle farmer knows, you put out hay one day, then you have to put it out again the next, and the next, and the next. Your opinion treats these folks like cattle.
    “…you may as well take that $5.6 million and teach African children how to properly irrigate crops and use protection as to not spread AIDS. What exactly is giving those kids access to Wikipedia going to do if they can’t even live to experience their 5th birthday?”
    That argument is so shortsighted and petty. You might as well argue against someone building a hospital, because the people would starve to death before it was finished.
    $5 million only feeds about 5 million folks for less than a week. Are you going to fund the week after that, and the week after that? It IS work that is needed, and it IS being done…by others. Not everyone needs to be doing the same thing, doing things on a crisis-only viewpoint. Some folks look ahead, see the need for continuing education from as early as possible to eventually enable a schoolchild in Haiti to take over YOUR lazy job from their ‘village’ before they reach 17, and use the money to support their entire village, fund his/her classmate through med school, so they can use remote textbooks, remote technology, to support a regional medical clinic… just maybe… because they learned to use the technology you flaunt and they got access to Wikipedia to learn how to irrigate crops and eradicate AIDS. Technical knowledge YOU WANT TO DENY THEM.
    Just the ‘canned’ slice of Wikipedia included on board each OLPC laptop is more targeted survival knowledge than exists in hardcopy in most local libraries in towns under 50,000 population in the developed world.
    Investing in the education of PEOPLE is the target of OLPC. High density knowledge transfer through bleeding edge technology, fueled by the consumerized high volume manufacturing built for your giga speed, tera storage, whiz-bang greed just happens to be the vehicle and tool they are using to reach toward that goal.
    Sorry if that interferes with your latest tech gizmo high, or hypocritical rants about starving kids. And I won’t shed a single tear when one of those kids takes your job.

  • Mikekandie

    This is very nice..Can some one tell me how i ca go about to help the so many underprevileged Kenya children to get to benefit from this awesome tecnology

Back to top ▴