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Is OLPC Dead or Alive?
Eight years ago, One Laptop Per Child started on its quest to provide computers to the developing world. Last Tuesday, OLPC News posted an article called "Goodbye One Laptop Per Child." In it, author Wayan Vota wrote, "With the hardware now long past its life expectancy, spare parts hard to find, and zero support from the One Laptop Per Child organization, its time to face reality. The XO-1 laptop is history. Sadly, so is Sugar. Once the flagship of OLPC's creativity in redrawing the human-computer interaction, few are coding for it and new XO variants are mostly Android/Gnome+Fedora dual boots…. OLPC is dead."
Wednesday, Giulia D'Amico, Vice President of Business Development for the OLPC Association, the Miami-based group focused on XO sales, responded that "OLPC's mission to empower the world's children through education is far from over." As evidence of this, she pointed to a recent strategic alliance with the Zamora Teran family to deliver XO laptops to Central America, South America and Africa.
D'Amico said that OLPC is also distributing laptops in Costa Rica, and Uruguay will soon receive its first 50,000 units of the XO-4 Touch (which runs Android). The XO Tablet is currently available directly through governments and NGOs, as well as through all major retail outlets in the United States, including Walmart, Amazon and Toys 'R Us.
D'Amico concluded that "OLPC also has outsourced many of the software and development units because the organization is becoming more hardware and OS agnostic, concentrating on its core values — education. As an example, we've partnered with the Smithsonian Museum to bring feature-rich, interactive and more targeted content to our young learners."
So, to paraphrase a famous misquotation of Mark Twain, it would appear that the rumors of OLPC's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Christopher Piehler is editor in chief of THE Journal.