To be fair to OLPC, at $188 the much heralded, sometimes maligned XO laptop did break down some price and style barriers and the organisation has managed to move about 600,000 units.
However, given the widespread publicity, as well as support from the idealists within the open source and Linux communities, one can hardly call the program a rip snorting success.
Having failed to deliver on much of its promise to bring portable computing technology to places which would otherwise have no hope of obtaining it, OLPC appears to have strayed from many of its original ideals. Once a champion of Linux and open source advocates, OLPC now seeks to reach an agreement with Microsoft to put Windows XP on the XO.
Amid tales of internal bickering, there have been high profile resignations from OLPC and much public criticism of the organisation from once loyal supporters. There have also been tales of an unprofessional and inefficient product support and supply chain infrastructure. Reports have also begun to surface about product quality and reliability problems.
Having recently spoken to local advocates of OLPC, it seems clear that there is a lot of fragmentation in the organisation. The very idea of putting Windows XP on the XO is anathema to many if not most of the original founders - except of course OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte.
The idea that the XO should be sold as a consumer product was also contrary to the original ideals of the organisation. Yet the give one get one program is said to be back in vogue, no doubt as a device to boost flagging sales. CONTINUED