The nonprofit OLPC initiative has faced an uphill battle in getting simple but durable and low-cost laptops to schoolchildren in developing nations. Following a number of setbacks in the three years since it was formed, from production delays to complications in getting new deals and job cuts, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte has announced a shift in strategy to help bring the foundation closer to its noble goals: open source everything and hope commercial manufacturers will adopt it.
Negroponte pointed out that just a few years ago nobody was interested in building small cheap laptops. The foundation’s so-called $100 laptop certainly spawned the netbook craze, but with the increasing pressure from the commercial market and some erred decisions along the way, the group has struggled to stay afloat. Nevertheless the XO laptop has been praised for its innovative hardware features and environmentally friendly design, and by going open source the organization hopes larger manufacturers will churn out their own dustproof and waterproof netbooks with a screen that can be read in full sunlight.
Negroponte believes that, within three years, companies will be pushing out some 5 to 6 million machines every month as compared with about a half-million OLPC machines now in use. Of course, this all depends on companies actually taking up on the offer.