OLPC’s Real Legacy
This week's announcement that OLPC's conceptual XO-3 tablet computer design would launch late this year, brings the OLPC initiative full circle. It's original vision inadvertently ignited the netbook market for lo-fi, connected computers which in turn begat Chrome OS and iPad, culminating in OLPC's closing the loop with its own tablet.
Ironically, the original XO-1 was at times more popular amongst geeks than the populations of countries that OLPC sought to assist.
What began as an altruistic venture eventually morphed into a hyper-fetished, high-margin Apple product; it's great to see OLPC re-orienting itself in activism once more.
The XO-3, based on Marvell technology and a 9" glass display, will purportedly ship before the end of the year, at a cost of $75.
It's easy to poke fun at Negroponte's management style, OLPC's layoffs and delays or it's flawed educational model, but perhaps the real legacy of OLPC has been in setting the tone and vision of low-cost portable computing; influencing the likes of Google, Microsoft, Intel and Apple is no mean feat.
OLPC's gravitational effect on the industry's giants may sometimes be imperceptible, but it's role as a global advocacy power and concept hothouse has pulled them all towards its vision.