XO Laptop by OLPC (One Laptop Per Child), “Give One Get One” Launches Today
The folks at OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) are a class act. Today their “Give One Get One” (G1G1) program launched, where for the masterfully engineered price of $399, you get to donate an XO laptop to a child in the developing world (who will hopefully not carry the thing on their head as their elegant-yet-silly graphic depicts) and simultaneously receive an XO laptop “for the child in your life.” $200, or just less than half of the total cost ($399 plus another $25 or so for shipping) is tax-deductible, so if you itemize, that’s means anywhere from $20 to $60 in reduced income taxes. Plus, they throw in a one-year wireless access plan that is valued at $350 (more on that below). Is it really about the money though? Of course not. This is a great cause. This is a statement about human potential, about the undiscovered genius out there that just needs an opportunity to connect and share. (Let’s just hope these laptops don’t get distributed to the Janjaweed… technology cuts both ways.)
In an earlier blog posting, I said that their notebook computer, the XO Laptop, would be the new personal electronic status symbol for the 2007 holiday season. Admittedly, the XO Laptop is designed for use by a child, but I still stand by my prediction, as well as my secondary (and obvious) prediction that a secondary market of hacks and tweaks will emerge, just as they did with the iPhone. Still don’t believe me? Check out the disclaimer text on the XO Laptop Give-One-Get-One “Terms and Conditions” page:
9. Neither OLPC Foundation nor One Laptop per Child, Inc. has service facilities, a help desk or maintenance personnel in the United States or Canada. Although we believe you will love your XO laptop, you should understand that it is not a commercially available product and, if you want help using it, you will have to seek it from friends, family, and bloggers. One goal of the G1G1 initiative is to create an informal network of XO laptop users in the developed world, who will provide feedback about the utility of the XO laptop as an educational tool for children, participate in the worldwide effort to create open-source educational applications for the XO laptop, and serve as a resource for those in the developing world who seek to optimize the value of the XO laptop as an educational tool. A fee based tech support service will be available to all who desire it. We urge participants in the G1G1 initiative to think of themselves as members of an international educational movement rather than as “customers.”
While the T’s and C’s page includes the extensive Boston-lawyer-generated CYA verbiage that one would expect, kudos to OLPC for adding in their own message, especially to the ALL-CAPS PORTION OF THE SHRINKWRAP/BOILERPLATE LEGAL TEXT WHICH NOBODY TYPICALLY READS, i.e.,
OLPC FOUNDATION RECOMMENDS THAT YOU (….) STAY ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION.
Finally, this is where the “class act” meets truly savvy marketing: OLPC has gotten T-Mobile to include one year of complimentary access to T-Mobile HotSpot locations throughout the United States (which can be used from any Wi-Fi-capable device, not just the XO laptop). That means you’ll see this status symbol, the XO Laptop, sitting on tables in Starbucks and Borders, as well as in airport lounges, Kinkos, Hyatt hotels… not exactly your local public school classrooms.