Bellerbys Economics - Mr Stephenson

Friday, September 28, 2007

The £50 Laptop

Today sees the launch of the £50 laptop project - called the One Laptop Per Child machine (OLPC).

Apart from anything else, it demonstrates the way in which mobile phone technology, palmtops and handheld devices are all merging into a single portable device that even a child can use.

The XO laptop is a Linux-based device with built in wi-fi. This means that data can be transferred through the air from one device to another. If any one laptop is close to an internet hotspot, then all the laptops within range of each other have access to the internet. A typical range is about 1oom - so it's possible to daisy-chain access to the internet over a wide area with each laptop acting as a router for the others.

The laptop uses free open source software which covers all the usual applications - it even has a built-in digital camera - and the word processor is MS-Word compatible.

What will be the economic effects of this? Well, the explosion of mobile phone technology in Africa in recent years has been partly responsible for an increase in GDP averaging 5% a year across the continent as a whole. Even better improved communications may accelerate this further. From an educational point of view, the project also offers potential for e-learning schemes in an area where only 30% of children have access to education on a daily basis. That will lay the foundation for future economic growth.

In terms of competition, it has the laptop manufacturers worried - they will need to rapidly produce their own versions or perhaps die. Also, the fact that the XO comes with a built-in media player and software that can emulate MS-Word will have Microsoft worried too.

The next five years should be very exciting in terms of the economic impact on the world electronics industry.


  • I read the article about this a very long time ago. it's good for students though as it is very cheap and affordable. However, it still got some problems that they don't have any sockets to connect to the External device. well, you can send your work on the internet and print it out, still However, time goes one, and then it's gonna get better. What an idea!!!

    By Blogger Watcharaphon Pansanit (Lee), at 3:15 am  

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