MIT has recently had a bit to do about their $100 laptop, which was designed to be a cheap computer for people in 3rd World Countries. From their FAQ page:
The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. This rugged laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.
This I think is a good thing. In fact, I know I’m not alone in saying that I’d want to have one of these. I know lots of college students that would like one of these. $100 is the cost of the parts and does not assume a $100 street price for consumers.
When they first announced the project, they said they were not going to offer the laptop to the public, which I thought was really dumb. In the press conference I’m watching while I write this, Nicholas Negroponte and with Kofi Annan (Macalester 61′), said that they would offer the laptop to commercial companies so the public can buy it, most probably for more than $100 (maybe $150-200). This is smart.
To make this gadget successful they need to do two things: 1) they need to create a large base of applications that are easy to use and designed for this product, and easy to translate. 2) They need to keep pushing the costs for the components down and the only way you can do that is through volume. Letting users in developed nations pay for that volume is a win-win. They will also be able to create a slew of applications and addons that will be able to be used by users in 3rd World Countries.
I got 2 iOpeners when they came out off of eBay. I’d easily get one of these for similar reasons. You could buy 3 of these for the cost of an xBox. Many of the PSP hacks that are floating around could much more easily be adopted for a tool like this.
Assuming this works, its cool. I don’t think that they are going to solve all the worlds problems with this. There is way too much opportunity for corruption. I could easily see these selling for $50 on eBay when people steal them wholesale and try to resell them. The idea of everyone in the world having a laptop is compelling, but I think there are far too many political roadblocks to this being a huge success.