At $200, one laptop per everyone?

A laptop computer from the One Laptop Per Child Foundation.

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: On the topic of computers, have you heard of the nonprofit program called One Laptop Per Child?

Last year, the nonprofit group offered a Christmas special. For $400 you'd get a laptop for yourself and a second would be sent to a child somewhere in the developing world. Almost 200,000 computers were sold. But getting them to where they were going turned into a fiasco. So for this holiday season, the group has teamed up with big business.

Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.


DAN GRECH: Last year, people snapped up the so-called XO laptops, then waited months for them to be delivered. This time around, the XO will be distributed by Internet retail giant Amazon.com.

Scott Cleland is with industry consultant Precursor.

SCOTT CLELAND: Amazon has really now become kind of the electronic Wal-Mart. You know, they just have massive warehouses, and a massive distribution network, and a system to be an air traffic controller for requests coming in and getting the product out.

The One Laptop Per Child foundation developed the XO. Quanta, a Taiwanese computer maker, manufactured it. And a team of open-source software developers created its operating system and applications. But Cleland says that kind of collaborative effort doesn't work for delivery.

CLELAND: When you're talking about world distribution, that isn't something that you snap your fingers and people can do. It's not a self-organizing task.

At first, XO's open source operating system was seen as a threat to software titan Microsoft. Now Microsoft is a partner. It plans to include a version of Windows XP on the next generation of XO's.

JIM ZEMLIN: Corporate interests are often aligned with the goals of open-source software.

Jim Zemlin directs the Linux Foundation, which promotes open-source software. He says cheap laptops can help poor countries develop faster. They can also create a market for more expensive computers in the future.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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