Rob Katz

$100 Laptop Now $140

Question Mark GreenMost of the news about the One Hundred Dollar Laptop has been positive–and for good reason. It’s a great design project being done by some great designers (my father’s an MIT alum; I am required by birth to promo the place). There have, however, always been some lingering questions about the project and its business model–or lack thereof. Now, according to Business Week’s Bruce Nussbaum, there are some questions about its namesake price (quoted from SciTechToday via NussbaumOnDesign):

The little laptop that some say might change the world has moved closer to launch, and gotten a little bit pricier. Nicholas Negroponte, cofounder of MIT’s Media Lab and head of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) nonprofit organization, said on Friday that the laptop, originally projected to cost $100, would probably cost closer to $135 to $140 at launch.

To me, price fluctuations indicate an inherent flaw in the OLPC plan–lack of exposure to market forces. As one Blogspotting commenter notes, the laptop was never intended to sell on an open market, which–in his opinion–renders the price increase moot. That very fact, however, shows just how undervalued this product could be, and forces me to think of situations whereby families would be forced to sell the laptop for the going (black) market rate. Do you purchase medicine for a sick family member or keep the child’s laptop? Not an inconceivable situation…especially considering how tech-starved many small businesses are in the developing world.