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OLPC Pushes the XO Laptop in an Already Saturated Market

By - Source: Tom's Guide | B 3 comments

Following a certain lag in government sales, the OLPC foundation has decided to revive its Give One, Get One (aka G1G1 program) in cooperation with Amazon.

The OLPC G1G1 was initially launched last year and there was an overwhelming demand for the XO laptops. Despite the fact that bulk orders didn’t seem to be picking up, people couldn’t wait to get their hands on the OLPC machine, even if it meant buying two and giving one away. Unfortunately production delays meant that the release of the OLPC laptop was delayed, so when it did launch, there was a shortage of the notebooks.

Fast forward to when the thought of the XO laptop ever being in short supply raises an eyebrow or two, and sales are still in a slump (figures stand at around 600,000 units sold). OLPC has decided to bring back the G1G1 idea with the help of Amazon.

Matt Keller, director of Europe, Middle East and Africa at OLPC, told PC World on Wednesday that the company had decided to use an e-tailer to help run the program instead of dealing with it all single-handedly because, while there’s countless volunteers working with the association, the core group of OLPC is comprised of just 25 people.

While we don’t doubt that the taking the idea of operating through an e-tailer and running with it is a sensible idea for OLPC and the XO notebook, we’re not too sure how well the laptops are going to sell. Looking at the market, the demand for the laptops is going to be significantly lower than it was this time last year.

A year on the netbook/nettop market is almost saturated with products that are getting better and better with each launch, there simply isn’t room for an inferior model, which, when you consider the cost of purchasing two, will cost roughly the same as an Eee PC or similar. Granted the XO laptop is set to become a dual-boot machine (another attempt to boost sales) in the very near future, but for a lot of people that’s not going to be enough to convince them to go OLPC.

Amazon is set to start flogging the OLPC under the G1G1 program in late November. We can’t help but feel that getting an XO instead of an Eee or a Wind for Christmas will be like asking for a PlayStation and getting a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

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    Anonymous , September 6, 2008 4:04 AM
    I've written a short response to this article because I heartily disagree with many of your comments here. Specifically the notions of competition and "market saturation", and "inferiority" of the XO versus things like the EEE PC. I'm not an OLPC zealot, I just don't see the doom and gloom you're talking about.

    Please have a read here:
    http://www.buzzmoo.com/?p=160
  • 0 Hide
    megamanx00 , September 9, 2008 11:07 PM
    OLPC has failed due to leadership. The G1G1 program was a fine idea but they could have continued it or simply sold single units for $300 when people would have bought them.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 14, 2008 4:49 AM
    What do you mean by failed? 5000 units made it to Rwanda last week to make a total of about half a million deployed to places in need, worldwide.

    Kids are getting them and using them - wow on earth is this failure?

    www.buzzmoo.com