The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has announced its next-generation effort, which will target a $75US price point. InfoWorld has a story (from its affiliate, PC World) about the prototype: OLPC announces next-gen XO-2 $75 laptop.
The nonprofit One Laptop Per Child Project has shown the first images of its next-generation touch-screen laptop that goes by the name XO-2. According to Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of OLPC, the laptop is under development and has a goal of costing $75.
..."The XO-2 will be a bit of a Trojan horse," he explained. He said the XO-2 will be pushed first as an e-book reader with the capacity of holding over 500 e-books. "Currently developing nations such as China and Brazil are spending $19 per student per year on books," Negroponte said. Investing in the XO-2 at $75 should be an easy decision for these countries, he added. But Negroponte pointed out, the XO-2 is much more than a e-book and is a fully functional laptop.
The first-generation XO laptop failed to meet its $100 price point - the article points out that it costs $188 per unit to manufacture an XO. Still, getting to that price point was quite an achievement. If the XO-2 fails to meet its price point by the same ratio, it will cost on the order of $140. That, too, will be a victory.
The gap between the developed and developing worlds is staggeringly wide, but certain technologies have achieved unexpected penetration into the downscale markets. Internet cafes abound in almost any developing-world settlement larger than a village. Cell phones, too, have proven their ability to provide significant value to the poor - if not the poorest of the poor, at least the next segment up. If the XO-2 does manage to catch on, it will be yet another step in the right direction.
Does the XO-2 have implications for health IT? On the surface, no - its target market is education at the moment. But once computing becomes ubiquitous, it will almost certainly be used to move the developing world in the direction of digital medicine. One obvious application compatible with the e-book focus would be as an e-journal platform for medical professionals and para-professionals.
A picture or two can be found at the PC World site.