“This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm. The magic lies within—within each child, within each scientist, scholar, or just plain citizen-in-the-making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day.”—Kofi Annan

This week marked the launch of the long awaited One Laptop One Child campaign.

Whether it’s known as the XO laptop…G1G1…Give One Get One…OLPC…One Laptop Per Child or OMG aPC4 $100 IMH1!!! (I MUST HAVE 1) campaign…

…the bottom line is that for every computer purchased, one computer is supposed to land in the hands of a child in a developing nation. And, with that computer would come access to a larger world, better understanding of existing technology and opportunity for greater advancement than otherwise.

Through November 26, U.S. and Canadian residents will be able to purchase two laptops for $400, with one donated.

Now, you might wonder why two $100 computers cost $400. While the intent was to develop a $100 computer, as is often the case in product development, things ran over a little. So, each laptop actually costs about $190. But, it is said to be well built, fully functional and Electronic Arts is even expected to equip each XO laptop with its SimCity game, enabling children to learn how to build cities using limited resources. That is classy!

As amazing a feat this is, MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte and the OLPC have been hit with harsh criticism for missing their $100 target; unfortunate considering OLPC is a non profit and this was not exactly a strictly business initiative. In fact, $200 of the purchase price is tax deductible.

Emerging Technology’s Jim Rapoza puts OLPC critics into two camps:

  1. those who originally said it couldn’t work and who hate to be proven wrong
  2. those technology vendors who fear that the XO could have a negative impact on their businesses.

I guess it’s not surprising coming from companies that aren’t necessarily known for playing nice. I admire Negroponte, OLPC and all those involved for their vision and effort to make it happen.