You are on page 1of 101

Has the non-profit business model

adopted by One Laptop Per Child

hindered its success?

An investigation by

Mikul Patel
BSc Business Information Technology
University of Portsmouth
Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology i

Technology in the classroom is becoming an ever common sight around the world.
One organisation that aims to extend this further to developing regions is One
Laptop Per Child (OLPC). But rather than operating with the intention to make a
profit, OLPC distinctively runs as a non-profit with humanitarian motives; surrounded
by highly competitive and established technology companies.

The purpose of the research paper is to investigate the impact of the non-profit
model on OLPC’s accomplishments so far and whether it is the right approach for the
future. Focusing on the business aspect of OLPC, the paper studies some of the
many characteristics of the non-profit sector and important areas of management
applicable to non-profit organisations. Past news events related to OLPC are linked
with these findings in order to form points of discussion. Research survey found that
the user community feels neglected from the OLPC initiative and that they should be
better utilised to help support the non-profit approach.

The paper concludes that OLPC should still maintain their non-profit model as a way
of differentiating themselves within the laptop market and whilst they might not
consider themselves as having competition, better management is need to ensure
that future goals and new laptop models are to become a success.

A quote from Nicholas Negroponte in 2006:

“Now once people start looking at this, they say, ah, this is a laptop project. Well,
no, it's not a laptop project. It's an education project...I'm just going to get that
thing built, and it turns out it's not so hard. Because laptop economics are the
following: I say 50 percent here; it's more like 60, 60 percent of the cost of your
laptop is sales, marketing, distribution and profit. Now we have none of those, OK?
None of those figure into our cost. Because first of all, we sell it at cost, and the
governments distribute it”

Speaking at the TED2006 conference (Monterey, California)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology ii


After the stresses and many hours of dedication put in, I am pleased with what I
have produced and to be able to call it ‘my own work’ is a very satisfying one. This
dissertation would not have been possible without the help, support and advice given
from a variety of people.

First of all, I would like to thank my tutor, Penny Hart, for her valuable guidance over
the last few months. Her suggestion for me to present my research project at the
student research conference, held at the University of Portsmouth, gave me the added
confidence needed in the run up to the completion date. To all the forum respondents
of my questionnaire, I thank you for your useful insights into the OLPC initiative and
the findings were very interesting. I am also grateful towards Yioryos Asprobounitis
and Wayan Vota (forum admins at for supporting the research stage of
my project. Extra thanks also goes towards Sandy at, for taking the
time to review and critique my initial survey questions.

Last and not least, a special mention goes towards my housemates; Dudley, for his
lively house shaking dubstep music; Rachel, for always being in a happy mood; and
Michael, for the motivational words given throughout the year.

Mikul Patel

Business Information Technology

University of Portsmouth

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology iii


Figures and Tables .......................................................................................... vi

Abbreviations.................................................................................................. vii

Chapter One – Introduction to the Project

1.1 Background information......................................................................... 1
1.2 Project aims and objectives .................................................................... 2
1.3 Methodology ........................................................................................ 3
1.3.1 Secondary research....................................................................... 3
1.3.2 Primary research........................................................................... 4
1.4 Project constraints ................................................................................ 4

Chapter Two – The Non-Profit Sector

2.1 What is the non-profit sector? ................................................................ 5
2.1.1 Public charities.............................................................................. 6
2.1.2 Private foundations ....................................................................... 6
2.1.3 Other exempt organisations ........................................................... 7
2.2 Where does OLPC fit within this sector? ................................................... 7
2.3 Outside the non-profit sector.................................................................. 9
2.3.1 Are the boundaries merging together? ............................................. 9
2.4 The non-profit effect on the laptop market ............................................... 11

Chapter Three – Non-Profit Management

3.1 Leadership and the governing board........................................................ 13
3.1.1 The current state of OLPC’s leadership and board.............................. 14
3.2 The mission statement .......................................................................... 16
3.2.1 The changing nature of OLPC’s mission ............................................ 16
3.3 Strategy and business planning .............................................................. 17
3.3.1 A shift in strategy for OLPC? ........................................................... 18
3.3.2 A lack of risk from OLPC................................................................. 19
3.4 Summary............................................................................................. 20

Chapter Four – Intel Classmate PC – A Brief Case Study

4.1 History behind the Classmate PC ............................................................ 22
4.2 Product development............................................................................. 23
4.3 Classmate PC distribution ...................................................................... 24

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology iv

4.4 Marketing and pricing strategy ............................................................... 25
4.5 Summary ............................................................................................ 26

Chapter Five – Primary Research

5.1 Methodology ........................................................................................ 27
5.2.1 Questionnaire design ..................................................................... 27
5.2.2 Questionnaire constraints............................................................... 29
5.2.3 Questionnaire response.................................................................. 30
5.2 Questionnaire results.............................................................................31
5.2.1 General questions ......................................................................... 31
5.2.2 The XO laptop............................................................................... 32
5.2.3 The OLPC project .......................................................................... 34
5.3 Summary of research ............................................................................ 39

Chapter Six – Further Discussion

6.1 The G1G1 program ............................................................................... 40
6.1.1 The G1G1 community .................................................................... 41
6.1.2 G1G1 2010? ................................................................................. 42
6.2 OLPC’s management ............................................................................. 43
6.2.1 Change in direction ....................................................................... 43
6.2.2 An educational or laptop project? .................................................... 43
6.3 The competing markets ......................................................................... 44
6.3.1 A commercial approach.................................................................. 45
6.4 New funding sources ............................................................................. 46
6.5 Future considerations for OLPC ............................................................... 48

Chapter Seven – Conclusion

7.1 Conclusion of the project ....................................................................... 49
7.2 Answering the objectives ....................................................................... 50
7.3 Limitations ........................................................................................... 52
7.4 Future expansions.................................................................................52

References ..................................................................................................... 53
Appendices ..................................................................................................... 62

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology v

Figures and Tables


Figure 1.1 - Negroponte with the XO-1 laptop at a UN briefing .............................. 2

Figure 2.1 - NCCS categorisation of non-profit organisations................................. 5
Figure 2.2 - The three sectors and hybrid segments of the economy ...................... 10
Figure 3.1 - Board behaviour moves forwards and backwards ............................... 14
Figure 3.2 - OLPCorps students with teachers at Kicukiro Primary.......................... 19
Figure 4.1 - Original ‘clamshell’ design of the Classmate PC .................................. 22
Figure 4.2 - Updated clamshell design (left), convertible design (right) .................. 23
Figure 4.3 - Distribution of Intel-powered Classmate PC’s..................................... 24
Figure 5.1 - SurveyGizmo account types ............................................................ 29
Figure 5.2 - SurveyGizmo summary of results..................................................... 30
Figure 5.3 - News posting of the questionnaire.................................................... 31
Figure 5.4 - Relation to the XO laptop ................................................................32
Figure 5.5 - Method of obtaining the XO laptop ................................................... 32
Figure 5.6 - Main purpose of using the XO laptop ................................................ 33
Figure 5.7 - Rated experience of using an XO laptop ............................................ 33
Figure 5.8 - The year which knowledge of the OLPC project occurred ..................... 34
Figure 5.9 - Perception of OLPC’s media coverage ............................................... 35
Figure 5.10 - Perception of OLPC’s success ......................................................... 36
Figure 5.11 - View of OLPC’s commercial viability ................................................ 36
Figure 5.12 - Perceived focus for OLPC............................................................... 37
Figure 5.13 - View that OLPC should be more profit-driven ................................... 37
Figure 6.1 - G1 program................................................................ 41


Table 1 - Basic breakdown of the OLPC organisation ............................................ 8

Table 2 - Netbook shipment volume and market share by brand in 2008 (Q3) ........ 12
Table 3 - Question justification for survey...........................................................28
Table 4 - Ranked perception of the importance of advertising media ...................... 35

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology vi


American Cancer Society (ACS)

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Chief Information Officer (CIO)
East African Community (EAC)
Give 1 Get 1 (G1G1)
Independent Software Vendor (ISV)
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS)
Non Government Organisations (NGO)
Office for National Statistics (ONS)
One Laptop Per Child Association (OLPC)
Original Design Manufacturer (ODM)
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)
Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED)
The Entertainment Gathering (EG)
United Nations (UN)
United States (US)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology vii

Chapter One – Introduction to the Project

Before an investigation of the project title can begin, it is important to provide some
background information based around the topic area. This chapter will also give a
summary of the aims and objectives of the research project along with a short
description on how and why research is to be carried out.

1.1 Background information

After decades of dominance in the computer market, the desktop PC was finally
overtaken, in terms of sales, by the notebook PC during the third quarter of 2008
(iSuppli Corporation, 2008). This strikes the question “is this the end of the desktop
PC?” (Soh, 2009) as the price point of notebook PCs continue to fall whilst still
offering the functionalities that consumers demand; the most convenient being able
to wirelessly compute with a lightweight device.

An issue linked with the increased availability of technology and information is that of
the global digital divide. Put simply, this is the area in between those countries that
have free access to technology and those who do not. As of 2009, 1.3 billion people
are thought to be actively online; equating to around 20 per cent of the global
population (Morley, 2009, p. 302). If further analysed, it would be clear that the
majority who do not have access to technology would come from third world
countries such as those in Africa, Asia and parts of the Americas. Many issues and
solutions to solving the digital divide have been debated (Barrett, 2007; Iacolare,
2007) such as empowering the people who can make use of new technologies whilst
at the same time improving the usability to accommodate the masses.

One organisation that was set up to tackle the digital divide in developing countries
is the One Laptop Per Child Association (OLPC). Formed in January 2005 and
headquartered in Massachusetts, USA, the organisation is fronted by computer
scientist and visionary Nicholas Negroponte. As well as being a former graduate from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Negroponte also co-founded the
MIT Media Laboratory and has been an influential figure in the world of technology
with his ideas and beliefs (MIT Media Lab, n.d.). In his best selling book, he
predicted the influence that digital technologies may have in the future by describing
that “digital living will include less and less dependence on being in a specific space
at a specific time” (Negroponte, 1995, p. 165).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 1

Unlike most companies who produce technological products with the aim to make a
profit, OLPC is different as they operate on a non-profit basis. Here, the aim is to
focus on the educational benefits of the organisation rather than becoming fixated on
the profitability of the technological side; hence why the project is often referred as
being “not a laptop project. It’s an education project” (OLPC, 2010a).

Building on from the principles expressed in his works, Negroponte finally unveiled a
prototype of a proposed $100 laptop with support of, then United Nations Secretary-
General, Kofi Annan. The device was aimed at aiding education for the world's
poorest children (United Nations, 2005). Eventually a final design was created and
became known as the XO-1 laptop. Mass production started in late 2007 with
working models being sent to those governments who placed early orders.

Figure 1.1 Negroponte with the XO-1 laptop at a UN briefing (Reuters, 2006)

1.2 Project aims and objectives

Of the many potential areas for discussion, this research project will aim to
understand the non-profit business model adopted by OLPC, and its affect on the
success of the organisation; against those who operate on a for-profit basis. The
report intends to identify important characteristics of the non-profit model and cross
examine them with appropriate examples related to OLPC with thorough analysis.
Primary research will aimed towards those, who could be considered as being,
stakeholders to OLPC with the view to obtain their perceptions on the organisation.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 2

In order to accomplish the aims of the project, the following objectives questions
should be considered and answered:

1) What are the characteristics of the non-profit sector?

To identify the procedures for non-profits and how they work in industry

2) What are the mission goals and objectives as set by OLPC?

To identify the motives and drive behind the initiative and how they may
possibly change over time and why

3) On what scale does OLPC operate?

To identify the size and scope of OLPC and compare it against possible
competitors within the market

4) How does OLPC’s non-profit model differ from a for-profit model?

To identify the main differences between both model types and whether they
would have a good or bad impact on OLPC reaching their mission

5) How do stakeholders of OLPC perceive the company performance?

To identify common views of those with an interest in OLPC; either actual
users or those who actively follow the progress of the initiative.

1.3 Methodology

Successfully answering the research question will require thorough research of

secondary and primary sources to be carried out.

1.3.1 Secondary research

Secondary source data collected will be crucial to supporting the data gathered from
primary sources. This will be a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data drawn
together from a variety of sources such as current topical journals and internet
articles. Due to the nature of the project and OLPC’s formation being as early as
2005, it is unlikely that literature research will contain specific analysis of OLPC.
However, this report will make extensive use of academic literature to support the
study of the non-profit sector, business models and significant business theories. As
listed in the project initiation document (Appendix A), titles by Drucker (1990),
Hudson (1995) and Christensen (1997) will give some useful background information
for analysis of the OLPC project.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 3

Careful consideration has been made over the validity of research information
collected, especially from internet sources. Where possible, data from this source will
be double checked to ensure no error has been made at the time of publication.

1.3.2 Primary research

For the purpose of collecting meaningful data, a detailed questionnaire will be used.
Questionnaires have been identified as being more cost effective than carrying out
formal face-to-face interviews. The cost of travelling and the effort of scheduling
meetings are not justifiable for this research project. Questionnaires can be mass
delivered at the same time. The project hopes to collate data from a large sample
size and by using questionnaires, this is made possible. Additionally, the opportunity
to gather data from different geographical areas could help to find common trends.

For the purpose of analysing data, questionnaires can allow for easy graphical
representations of quantitative data through the use of computer software. It is
expected that respondents to the questionnaire will be familiar with the format so
that would eliminate the doubt of filling in personal opinions. Also, it has been
acknowledged that questionnaires are considered as being less intrusive than face-
to-face interviews because there is no pressure to answer questions quickly. This
allows for good thought to be put into an answer; hopefully resulting in better
individual responses.

Most importantly, to reduce the likelihood of bias and the influence of results,
questionnaires have been identified as being a more appropriate method of collecting
primary data because there is not formal contact.

1.4 Project constraints

Due to the limited time scale of the project, the quality and scope of research could
be brought into question. Regarding secondary research, the fast paced nature of the
technology market may result in articles being outdated by the time the report has
been completed. New technologies or market progression may occur during the write
up phase and this report will aim to keep as up to date as possible (circa April 2010).
The level of secondary resources available to read from will be some what limited to
the University library and online journal database. With the questionnaires, as the
respondents are located in another geographical location, it may be difficult to
provide help if they are stuck on answering some questions. As a way around this, all
participants will be given the opportunity to communicate back via email.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 4

Chapter Two – The Non-Profit Sector

This chapter will provide an understanding of the non-profit sector and its position
alongside the public and private sectors. The chapter will also outline the different
types of non-profits and the current state of the sector. As OLPC operates as a non-
profit organisation, their position within the non-profit sector will be examined.
Advancements in the laptop market will briefly be discussed.

2.1 What is the non-profit sector?

In 2008, a report on the non-profit sector, released by the National Center for
Charitable Statistics (NCCS), found that approximately 1.4 million non-profit
organisations were registered with the US government Internal Revenue Service
(IRS); a increase of 27 per cent between the years 1995 and 2005 (Blackwood, Wing
& Pollack, 2008).

The non-profit (also known as the third) sector can be described as a place where
not-for-profit organisations are positioned alongside a collection of public service
activities and private foundations (McKinney & Howard, 1998, p. 76). In contrast,
Lyons (2001, p. 5) considers it as being a place where lies “those organizations that
are not part of the public or business sectors”. However, both authors come to the
agreement that organisations, which lie within this sector, are formed by groups of
people who act on a voluntary basis and do not consider profit making as being a
main objective. Other common characteristics may include the democratic style of
management and control over the organisational structure; similar to one you may
find within the private sector. The non-profit sector can be further sorted into a
variety of organisation types. Appendix C lists the 26 types of organisations which
are exempt from the federal income tax system in the US.

Figure 2.1 NCCS categorisation of non-profit organisations (Urban Institute, n.d.)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 5

However, as detailed on figure 2.1, the NCCS categorises the sector into three types;
of which are further explained below:

2.1.1 Public charities

A publicly supported charity is dependent on finance received from the public. This
could come in the form of donations or from providing a service in exchange for a
small charge to cover operating costs, with the excess donated to a charitable cause.

Hopkins (2005) identifies public charities as being either one of two types;
institutions and publicly supported charities (p. 48). Public institutions can come in a
variety of forms including religious organisations, educational establishments and
places of healthcare. Depending on the national budget received from sources such
as public taxes, governments contribute heavily to public services. Again in the US,
public charities are placed under the tax code 501(c)(3) (Internal Revenue Code of
1986) in order to be declare themselves as being tax exempt and entitled to receive
tax deductable gift donations.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is an example of a public charity that, through
the charitable work carried out by its volunteers and donations received, are able to
offer a public service in the interest of the community.

2.1.3 Private foundations

Private foundations operate on a basis of being funded by payments from, usually, a
single wealthy financial source. Within the US, organisations who do not meet the
criteria of being public charities are defined under section 509(a) (Internal Revenue
Code of 1986) as being a private foundation.

Further characteristics, as described by Hopkins (2005), class private foundations as

being tax-exempt and generally represent in areas of educational or scientific work;
but still “subject to the rules application to charitable organizations” (p. 47). Also,
investment assets could be used as a source of revenue; “much like an endowment
fund” (p. 48). A private foundation may not necessarily have its own dedicated
charity program, possibly due to a lack of time available or charitable knowledge,
and therefore may choose to pass on its funds, as grants, onto other charitable
causes. These may be of personal interest to the private foundation and located in a
different geographical location.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 6

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is leading example of a grant-making foundation
that makes use of their influential status in society for the benefit of charitable
causes. Most recently, a pledge by the foundation (“Bill and Melinda Gates make
$10bn vaccine pledge”, 2010) shows the intention such a foundation can have
around the globe to make a social difference.

2.1.3 Other exempt organisations

The NCCS places the other classifications of non-profits under the term ‘other
exempt organisations’. Here, ‘social welfare’ organisations are considered to make up
the greatest proportion of those organisation types.

In order to be classed as being a social welfare organisation, “an organization must

operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of
the community” (IRS, 2009). Under US tax codes, social welfare organisations are
classed as being 501(c)(4) (Internal Revenue Code of 1986). Worth (2009) brings up
the question of why social welfare organisations are classed as being 501(c)(4) when
they closely follow the same goals as 501(c)(3) organisations. The difference being
that social welfare organisations do not “face the same limitations on political
activity” (p. 13) that 501(c)(3) organisations are objected to. To balance this
advantage, social welfare organisations are not able to declare gift donations as
being tax deductible.

Appendix C lists the other non-profit organisation types that would fall under NCCS’s
category ‘other exempt organisations’. These are not considered to make up a large
percentage of the total number of non-profit organisations in US; but they still are
able to contribute by providing a charitable service.

2.2 Where does OLPC fit within this sector?

Using the NCCS guidelines, OLPC would be placed under the category ‘other exempt
organisations’ because they do not meet the criteria’s of being public charity in
providing a service and receiving funding from government sources; and in being a
private foundation, with no single finance source funding the project.

Therefore, it should be simple to establish under which tax bracket (see Appendix C)
the OLPC organisation belongs to. However, due to the structure of the company,
assigning one tax bracket to represent the whole organisation is not as clear-cut.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 7

For the purpose of this report, the OLPC organisation can be simply split into two
definitive divisions: the OLPC Foundation and OLPC Association Inc. Table 1 gives a
basic breakdown of these two divisions and the purpose they take on.

OLPC Foundation OLPC Association Inc

Tax Bracket
501(c)3 501(c)4

Non-Profit Type Educational, Charitable etc Social Welfare

Headquarters Massachusetts, USA Massachusetts, USA

Mission/ “Stimulate local grassroots “Designing, manufacturing,

Purpose initiatives designed to and distributing laptops to
enhance and sustain over children in lesser developed
time the effectiveness of countries, initially
laptops as learning tools concentrating on those
for children living in governments that have
lesser-developed made commitments for the
countries” funding and program support
(OLPC, 2010b) required to ensure that all of
their children own and can
effectively use a laptop.”
(OLPC, 2010c)

Table 1. Basic breakdown of the OLPC organisation

This approach by OLPC is common practise amongst non-profit organisations. Worth

(2009) indentifies that because of the advantages that can be achieved from being
either an 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 organisation, it makes sense for some organisations to
have “two arms – actually two separately incorporated but related organizations”
(p. 14).

For OLPC, the ‘foundation’ arm is eligible to receive tax-deductible gifts and still
pursue the educational, research and other activities that would make it qualified to
be a 501(c)3 organisation. Alternatively, the ‘association’ arm would be free from
political lobbying restrictions and be able to raise funds through a mixture of sources
(chapter three briefly highlights some of the funding sources used by OLPC).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 8

2.3 Outside the non-profit sector

Within an economy, the non-profit sector does not operate separately and instead is
situated in between two other sectors: the public (government) and the private (for-
profit) sectors. It is important to understand the differences between these two
sectors as whilst they still produce a final produce/service, their motivations and
goals can vary significantly.

The UK National Accounts defines the public sector as containing “central

government, local government and public corporations” (ONS, 2008). Whilst these
may be freely available to the public, the “aim of the public sector is to provide
services that benefit the public as a whole” (Biz/, n.d.). The private sector,
however, would contain organisations which are financed and run by either an
individual or a collection of individuals; making up the company board. In terms of
scale, organisations in the private sector can range from being small sized to
operating as a large multi-national; spanning across the globe. “The goal of
businesses in the private sector is to make a profit” (Biz/, n.d.).

Despite not aiming to make a profit, a public organisation could still operate in a way
similar to that of a private organisation. Business costs should be covered for and if
they were not managed effectively, the result could be an increase in funding
required from the government; which in turn could lead to either cuts in other public
services or an increase in public taxes. An example of a large-scaled public
organisation, in the UK, would be the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The
BBC could be classified as being a public organisation acting in a private way; public
as in receiving its primary funding from the public TV license fee, and private as in
renting studio space out to other broadcasting companies or commercialising through
its global subsidiary; BBC Worldwide Limited.

2.3.1 Are the boundaries merging together?

It would be naïve to assume that an organisation, which belongs in one of the three
sectors, could not adopt some of the principles and practices as seen within
organisations in the other sectors. Gunn (2004) proposes the idea that a fusion of
the boundaries is occurring; causing the sectors to effectively merge together. Here,
it is viewed that a sharing of resources is happening between two or even all three
sectors to create “hybrid organizations” (p. 4). Figure 2.2 illustrates this idea and
gives a vague proportional view of how many organisations exist in the boundaries.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 9

Second Sector
b (government)
Third Sector

a c

First Sector

Figure 2.2 The three sectors and hybrid segments of the economy (Gunn, 2004, p. 5)

The Shell Foundation (, formed by the Shell Group, is an

example of how a for-profit company has created the ability to reallocate profits
towards a charity foundation. They would be placed within area ‘a’ of figure 2.2.

Within area ‘b’, a union of government operations, acting in a non-profit manner,

would be seen. In the UK, grant-maintained schools operate independently from local
education authorities and instead rely on government grants. Therefore, a school
would be completely responsible for the management of its own resources, funds
etc. As public sector organisations can be argued as running in a non-profit way
anyway, it is important to distinguish that those organisations found within area ‘b’
differ because they are not tied down by governmental regulations despite still
offering a public service.

A public-private partnership (PPP) describes the joint collaboration between

organisations from the public and private sectors. Placed inside area ‘c’, the most
common form of PPP, as identified by the UK government, is a public-private
initiative; “where delivery of public services involves private sector investment in
infrastructure” (HM Treasury, 2010). The PPP between Birmingham City Council and
Capita, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, shows how a combination of
these two sectors can result in synergies being achieved. In this case, “£9 million in

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 10

savings in 2007 from the first business transformation programme” (Evans & O’Dea,
2008) was achieved early on during the partnership in which more benefits are
expected in the upcoming years.

Whilst Gunn (2004) describes it as being difficult to specify the nature of

organisations who belong in area ‘d’, it could be seen that a joint venture between a
first, second and third sector organisation would fill this gap. However, issues that
may arise from this structure could include a conflict of interests between each party.
A for-profit organisation may not see any benefit from being in a joint venture if
there is no meaningful return on their investment. In contrast, a non-profit
organisation may want to redistribute the benefits for a worthy cause in line with
their own ethics and beliefs. Likewise, the government organisation may only be
interested in the cost savings that would benefit them; namely creating budget
savings and being able to allocate those out to other public services.

2.4 The non-profit effect on the laptop market

The introduction of the XO laptop could be considered to have been the catalyst
behind some changes within the laptop market; most notably in the resurgence of
the netbook (not to be confused with the notebook) sector. This sector has grown
significantly in recent years; “14 million units in 2008, and with shipments continuing
to rise, the scale will reach 25-30 million units in 2009, and 40-45 million units in
2010” according to Scott Lin, president of major computer manufacturer Acer Taiwan
(Wang, 2009). As computer blogger Vaughan-Nichols (2009) puts it; a netbook
should be “small, cheap, or able to access a network”, pinpointing the creation of the
XO laptop as the start of the current netbook boom.

Having a non-profit organisation placed alongside traditional for-profit companies

may have driven those for-profit companies to reassess the products they sell and
the motives behind them. This was evident with the release of Intel’s Classmate PC
(further discussed in chapter three) which loosely follows the non-profit humanitarian
goals as set by OLPC; all be it with a for-profit approach. Additionally, computer
manufacturer Asus released its Eee PC; targeted towards both an educational and
commercial purpose.

Table 2 illustrates a breakdown of the netbook market by market share; as of the

end of 2008. Here, despite being credited with starting the netbook market, OLPC
have already appeared to be nudged down by established for-profit companies.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 11

Mini-note PC brand Volume (million) Market share

Acer 2.15 38.3%

Asus 1.70 30.3%
HP 0.33 5.8%
MSI 0.32 5.7%
Dell 0.16 2.8%
OLPC (One Laptop
0.13 2.3%
Per Child)
Medion 0.13 2.3%
Kohjinsha 0.06 1.0%
Intel (Classmate
0.06 1.0%
reference design)
Lenovo 0.04 0.7%
Toshiba 0.03 0.5%
All others 0.51 9.1%
Total 5.61 100.0%

Table 2. Netbook shipment volume and market share by brand in 2008 (Q3)

Source: Digitimes (2008)

Being a non-profit, OLPC may have had to rely on their innovative designs as a way
of differentiating themselves within the mixed market. However, the question over if
“too much innovation” is bad for OLPC, is brought up by Felten (2007). Here, it is
considered that the likelihood of would-be innovations to fail is high. In the long run,
more established companies enter the same space; often producing the same
product but in a more expert and advanced way. For OLPC, this has already
happened with the release of netbooks by experienced manufacturers such as Acer,
Asus and HP (as shown in table 2). Therefore, a convergence of non-profit and for-
profit organisations could be said to have happened within the netbook market.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 12

Chapter Three – Non-Profit Management

Having established OLPC’s position within the non-profit sector, this chapter will aim
to highlight the important aspects of non-profit management and how it has been
used in the context of OLPC. Effective management can cover a wide range of areas
from strategic planning to financing and marketing.

3.1 Leadership and the governing board

In a non-profit organisation, the role the leader takes has to “fit in terms of the
mission of the institution and its values” (Drucker, 1990, p. 13). For Negroponte, he
was able to take this idea further when he fully committed himself to the OLPC
project after it was announced he had stepped down as MIT media lab chairman
(MIT, 2006). Speaking at the Emerging Technologies Conference, Negroponte (2005)
reiterated his desire and passion for the project by calling it the “most important
thing I've ever done in my life”. In the same speech, he later clarified the intention
to focus on education by describing the project as being “education project, not a
laptop project”. Even at this early stage, Negroponte showed the strengths and
attributes of a leader with his clear and precise goals for the project. In essence, he
wanted to improve education and use it as a platform to solve the problems in the
world; be it global poverty, the environment etc. Whilst it can be viewed that things
such as leadership traits or characteristics do not exist (Drucker, 1990), Negroponte
was able to draw upon many years of experience researching and publishing his
views on digital technologies along with the contacts he had established. Rather than
centring the organisation around himself, Negroponte talked about the venture being
a collective project that would draw upon the strengths of its employees and
partners; all with the expertise needed to drive the organisation’s initiatives forward.

Whilst they might not get recognised publicly, the supporting role of the governing
board is worth consideration when it comes to making organisation-wide decisions.
Governing boards can often be seen as being all powerful when it comes to setting
overall strategies and decisions. However, Hudson (1995) points out that, more often
than so, boards are “highly dependant on the staff not only for information and
advice but for preparing strategies and plans” (p. 40). For OLPC, this may be the
case as operating on a global scale could be hard to manage. Language differences
in participating countries could cause barriers of communication. Therefore, local
voluntary staff would play an important part in passing on feedback about

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 13

implemented laptop programs in local schools. From this, an organisation like OLPC
would have the information to support future decision making.

A governing board would not be formed overnight and, just like with the life cycle of
a product, a board needs time to mature until it reaches a stage where its members
are adding significant value to the organisation. Hudson (1995, p. 43) does mention
that the life cycle would vary for each individual organisation, however the pattern is
universal enough to help create a visualisation of this idea (see figure 3.1).

Founding Youthful Adult Mature

Figure 3.1 Board behaviour moves forwards and backwards (Hudson, 1995, p. 45)

Here, Hudson (1995) describes the tendency for boards to constantly change their
structure, either in a forwards or backwards movement. Within the ‘founding’ phase,
the introduction of new board members, at staggered intervals, can cause certain
members to resist change as their influence in decisions may become less important.
Moving onto the ‘youthful’ stage, as a management team begins to form under the
chief executive, the movement of responsibility may move down as the board takes
a “back seat” (p. 44). A reassessment of the board may occur as discussions become
lethargic and faith in the board is lost. The transition to the ‘adult’ phase may take
longer to establish as its realised that more professionally skilled board members are
needed. Original board members may decide to leave as relationships and business
approaches conflict. The new board members risk “losing the mission that inspired
the organization in the first place” (p. 45). Eventually moving onto the ‘mature’
phase, the board may adopt a relaxed role as new members, who may be experts in
their own field, are appointed to the board. However, there is no guarantee that they
will be fully involved within the organisation; often leading to past crises reoccurring
such as resistance to change and resignations. The life cycle is viewed to be a
continuous circle of events until the organisation eventually no longer exists.

3.1.1 The current state of OLPC’s leadership and board

In the context of OLPC, it can argued that the organisation has already reached the
maturity phase of the governing board life cycle, only to already be showing the
signs of moving in a backwards direction. The organisation has been able to expand

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 14

rapidly gaining partners and advisors from “academia, industry, the arts, business,
and the open-source community” (OLPC, 2010d). The current board of directors
already shows a host of influential names from established technology organisations
such as Google and AMD, along with representatives from media companies like
NewsCorp. However, in recent years, it has not been all plain sailing for OLPC which
has also seen some important losses from its board. Most notably, the withdrawal of
support from Intel (Krazit, 2008), after a dispute over the production of the rival
laptop by Intel; the Classmate PC (further discussed in chapter four), can be seen as
being a blow for the project. The synergies that may have arisen from both
organisations may have brought a more technologically innovative product to the
market; a view shared in an article by Charbax (2007).

Other prominent figures, who decided to leave the project after being involved since
the beginning, included former president of software, Walter Bender, who was
believed to have issues over the proposed movement away from “open-source
software in favor of Windows XP” (Paul, 2008c). Linked with Hudson’s (1995) belief
that some original board members will resign in the ‘adult’ phase when structural
change is introduced, OLPC also saw the resignation of Ivan Krsti, the former
director of security architecture, after Negroponte proposed the search for a CEO so
that the organisation could “operate more like Microsoft” (Paul, 2008b). In his blog,
Krsti (2008) comments on how he “cannot subscribe to the organization’s new aims
or structure in good faith, nor can I reconcile them with my personal ethic”. Possibly
the most significant loss for OLPC happened with the resignation of its founding chief
information officer, Mary Lou Jepsen, as she pursued the idea to “commercialize
technology she invented with OLPC” (Shah, 2007b), and thus forming, for-profit
company, Pixel Qi (

So whilst the organisation has been able to rapidly grown in size over the space of a
few years, the movement of people away from the board could imply that the
organisation is now placed back into a youthful stage. Recent job cuts throughout the
organisation (Musil, 2009), suggests a restructuring initiative is required to direct the
organisation back into the right direction rather than digressing away from the
original missions and values. Again linking back to Hudson (1995), a main attribute
of being in the youthful stage is that the organisation starts to outgrow the
capabilities of its leader (p. 44). Negroponte, himself, was quoted as saying he was
not a true CEO with “management, administration, and details” being his weaknesses
(Hamm, 2008). Therefore, a question could be raised about his leadership style not
being suited to managing, what is essentially, a technology organisation; in contrast

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 15

to his view that it is primarily an educational organisation/project. Negroponte’s
strengths lie in his ability to create a vision to change the world. So you could say
that he has been successful in bringing low-cost technology to the knowledge of
governments and world leading figures as a means of supporting the development of
children in developing countries.

3.2 The mission statement

The mission statement plays an important part in guiding an organisation towards

achieving their goals and outlining their values. Phills (2005) describes it as being
the reason “why people get up in the morning and go to work in a nonprofit” (p. 22).
A solid mission statement could therefore help to create a strong workforce and
ensure the individuals’ motives are purely self-rewarding. In marketing the mission
statement, Kickingbird (2002) stresses the importance of having a mission statement
that is “broad and flexible enough to anticipate and accommodate change”. She later
highlights the need to change the statement from time to time possibly due to
factors like a shift in “demographics and economics” (p. 328).

3.2.1 The changing nature of OLPC’s mission

Whilst Kickingbird acknowledges the need for missions to evolve over time, there is
the risk over either over-complicating or simplifying the mission. Worth (2009)
identifies a trade-off between these two possibilities. A narrow statement may be
“too constraining, making it impossible for the organization to grow or expand
without going beyond its mission”. In contrast, a broad statement may “become
meaningless and open the door to mission creep”; where the organisation gradually
moves away from its original purpose and becomes distracted with other activities.

For OLPC, a willingness to frequently change their mission statement, despite only
being in existence for a short time, has come under much criticism; much so by Vota
(2010). Here, he counts that the mission has subtly changed four times (or possibly
even more). Vota also mentions that on the official OLPC website, different versions
of the mission statement seem to appear; specifically on the ‘mission’ and ‘vision’
pages. From research, it is hard to find a single unified mission statement from
OLPC. It raises the question does a single mission actually exist? Or do OLPC operate
on many smaller missions; each targeted to different areas such as education or

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 16

3.3 Strategy and business planning

The role of setting a strategy should be used not only to show what an organisation
proposes to do, “but also what it decides not to do” (Kaplan & Nolan, 2001, p. 133).
Therefore, it could be seen that a non-profit organisation may have the tendency to
create many initiatives during its launch stage; whilst at the same time forgetting to
focus on the philanthropic goals they want to achieve. Over time, the following issues
should be considered when strategically planning in a non-profit environment:

 Not being funder lead – Organisations take up projects only because the
external funding is available. These may cause organisations to deviate away
from what they want to focus on. Funding can be hard to come across for any
non-profit organisation so there may be no alternative than to take the offer.

 Being more than a collection of projects – A shift from being core funded to
proposing to take on projects. These projects may have the tendency to
operate separately from each other and may result in creating divisions from

 Gaining a longer-term vision – Visions may tend to become short term. What
were once long term structures and policies now rarely last a few years as
management seek new ways to differentiate themselves; possibly as a way of
responding to competition in the sector.

 Taking on risk – As an organisation becomes more mature, there could be a

liking to become more risk averse when faced with taking on new
opportunities. Having a clear strategy in place could allow for better
evaluation of new ideas.

 Future sustainability – Having a clear strategic plan can help to build longer
term plans rather than focusing on solving the short term issues. A focus on
creating a lasting change should be considered as being important.

 The culture resists changing – Volunteers associated with an organisation

may have different relationships and agendas. These could clash as higher
management change procedures in order for the organisation to survive.

Adapted from Lawrie (2007, pp. 2-3)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 17

3.3.1 A shift in strategy for OLPC?
It can be easy to say that OLPC’s original mass production target of 5 to 15 million
laptops in 2006, and by the end of 2007, 100 to 150 million, was too ambitious
compared to what was actually produced; only 300,000 in 2007 reaching an
expected 1 million in 2008 (Shah, 2007a). In conjunction with a host of other
struggles such as originally targeted countries like India rejecting the idea (Longino,
2006) and lower than expected orders from participating governments; possibly due
to the original minimum one million order requirement, it is no surprise that OLPC
have had to continuously rethink their strategy in order to make the project succeed.

Currently, OLPC appears to be split into a variety of projects ranging from its official
field volunteer program (OLPCorps) to engaging young students and adults in its
OLPC Interns program. Also, as more countries sign up with interest in the project,
the creation of country operated foundations appears to have emerged; still
maintaining OLPC’s values and goals to deploy laptops into local schools. Although
they do not seem to be officially endorsed by OLPC, these small local deployment
efforts are run by groups of volunteers; thereby still following the characteristics of
non-profit projects. Appendix D lists these known locations, using data as of August
2009. However, there could be a possible risk from having many small deployment
programs running in succession. As the global expansion of deployment continues,
OLPC may find themselves in the position where it becomes difficult to keep track of
how and where programs are being run. Vota (2007) speculates “how many
countries are really participating in One Laptop Per Child? Do you know? Does
Nicholas Negroponte know?”. Whilst the definition of ‘participation’ can be vague,
independent projects in countries like Austria ( do not seem to
be fully recognised on the official OLPC deployment page.

Officially supported by OLPC, OLPCorps Africa is a grant run program which

encourages volunteers to develop grassroots learning in an African country of choice.
Whilst this can initially be seen as a good approach because of the cost savings made
from using students along with harnessing their eager interest to spread the OLPC
philosophy, criticisms of this approach are noticeable. Vota (2009) criticises only
initially having a 10 week period for deployment describing it as “wastefully too
short”. When compared to IT projects in a business environment, methodical
planning and designing is needed first before the task of implementation can be
carried out. Therefore, it would seem that a lot of pressure and responsibility is put
on the students if the suggested sums of $35,000 are given to each project team.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 18

Rightly so, Vota considers students as being the “wrong implementers”, on the back
of his own experience with a similar scheme called Geekcorps (

Figure 3.2 OLPCorps students with teachers at Kicukiro Primary (Stein, 2009)

However, as this program still continues to exist and expand in size (Marketwire,
2010), a feeling of hypocrisy could be felt especially when other OLPC programs such
as ‘Give 1 Get 1’ (G1G1) and ‘Change the World’ have been dropped; citing problems
such as a “drop-off in interest” and creating “very little” yield (Shah, 2009). Shah
also reports on yet another change in approach by OLPC; a movement away from
small-scale deployments back to a large-scaled effort. So before risking turning into
a non-profit with a collection of projects, an issue as already identified by Lawrie
(2007), OLPC appears to have focused on a direction for the future by scaling down.
When economic factors come into play, most notably with the current global
recession, a clear strategy could help to conserve the limited funds that a non-profit
organisation, like OLPC, would operate on.

3.3.2 A lack of risk from OLPC

Linked to Lawrie’s (2007) view that a non-profit may make use of less opportunities
as a way of reducing risk, OLPC could be said to have acted in this way during the
first few years of the project. Such examples include the decision not to initially take
on the Microsoft XP operating software from the start of the project; at the time
maintaining that OLPC “are a free and open-source shop” (Fisher, 2007). For the
developing community behind OLPC, this initial philosophy would have pleased them
because it showed a resilient view against being commercialised by implementing

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 19

software created by a large multinational corporation like Microsoft. However, in
reality, it became quickly apparent that governments wanted a version of the laptop
with XP preinstalled; causing OLPC to rethink and eventually allow XP to be mass
manufactured for the XO model from 2008 (Fildes, 2008). Ultimately, from not
taking this approach earlier, OLPC potentially lost out on mass orders from
governments; as was seen in Portugal where its government chose to order Intel
Classmate PC’s instead because of the availability of XP software and better product
support (Gardner, 2008).

In essence, OLPC experienced the basic business tradition of supply and demand.
They underestimated the reality that having tried and tested software was an
important criterion for governments. A competitor knew this and was able to supply
their product meeting the demands of the market. Although OLPC reacted quickly,
damage may have been already caused against their ethical goals because of the u-
turn made from their original stance against using commercialised software on its
XO-1 laptops.

3.4 Summary

As highlighted earlier in the chapter, Lawrie (2007) identified some strategic issues
that non-profit organisations should consider when planning for the future. For OLPC,
it could be viewed that they could fall under some of these issues; or at least start to
sway towards them. Currently, as OLPC seek to compete against competitors in the
market, there could be a tendency to take on large-scaled projects only because the
opportunity is available; as seen most recently with the agreement between OLPC
and the East African Community (EAC) to deliver “30 million laptops to the region by
2015” (Fildes, 2010). When considered that OLPC have had difficulties in being able
to create large bulk orders, and have yet to experience the levels of manufacturing
to justify being able to manufacture and deliver 30 million laptops, it could be
considered that OLPC are taking on a big risk; even more so than Lawrie would want
from non-profit organisations.

Lawrie (2007) also identifies the likelihood of the organisation culture resisting on
change. As OLPC have experienced, this has resulted in a loss in some of their
influential board members who have gone off to pursue their own humanitarian
efforts. So, whilst it may be considered as being bad for OLPC’s management, it
could be said that there is also a positive effect from the departure of these board
figures. Pixel Qi, set up by Mary Lou Jepsen, still maintain their charitable motives by

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 20

aiming to transform the accessibility of laptop screens; especially in developing
regions. Also with the formation of Sugar Labs, OLPC have had an influence in
creating separate spin-off organisations. If these relationships are maintained then
OLPC could still maintain their longer-term visions, rather than becoming short-term;
a common trend as pointed out by Lawrie (2007), for revolutionising the educational
learning of children around the world.

To sum up, OLPC faces many challenges in terms of the management of the
organisation. The key aspect to managing the organisation lies within the strength of
having a well-defined mission statement. This should allow OLPC to set out their
long-term visions and their approach to maintaining future sustainability; considered
as being important issues to think about by Lawrie (2007).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 21

Chapter Four - Intel Classmate PC – A Brief Case Study

As briefly mentioned in chapter three, the relationship between Intel and OLPC broke
down over Intel’s development of an alternative educational laptop; the Classmate
PC. Essentially, both projects are similar; the major difference being that Intel uses a
for-profit approach in marketing and selling their product. This chapter will briefly
examine the market approach used by Intel and how they have been able to
differentiate themselves in the very competitive netbook market.

4.1 History behind the Classmate PC

Originally unveiled as the Eduwise laptop in 2006, Intel’s entrance into the low-cost
laptop market was seen as being a major threat to OLPC’s $100 laptop project; with
Intel CEO, Paul Otellini, quoted as saying “nobody wants to cross the digital divide
using yesterday's technology” (Ricker, 2006). Powered by computer technology from
Intel themselves, Intel took a traditional chip manufacturer approach of only creating
a reference design for a laptop. As a result, Classmate PC’s are manufactured by
global original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s); each creating their own branded
version of the Classmate PC to distribute locally.

The Classmate PC, whilst mainly targeted to governments, can also be brought by
individuals directly from suppliers who manufacture and stock versions of the laptop.

Figure 4.1 Original ‘clamshell’ design of the Classmate PC (Intel Corp, 2007)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 22

4.2 Product development

Through their OEM partners, Intel has seen a variety of modified designs when
compared to the original reference design of the Classmate PC. Some of these OEM
branded Classmate laptops are as listed below:

 HCL MiLeap (India)

 Olidata JumPC (Italy)
 FTEC SmartBook (Malaysia)
 Neo eXplore (Philippines)
 CTL 2Go PC (United States)
Adapted from Intel Corp (2008)

Some of the most significant design changes have come from the help of American
PC manufacturer, CTL. In early 2008, a 2nd generation version of the Classmate PC
was officially presented at Intel's Developer Forum, with the interesting
announcement that it would be freely available for purchase on consumer sites like
Amazon; initially with a price tag of $400 (Malik, 2008).

During late 2008, another fundamental change to the Intel reference design was
leaked by CTL and Intel; sporting a tablet-like design through the novelty of having a
convertible screen, similar to that on the XO laptop (Stern, 2008).

Figure 4.2 Updated clamshell design (left), convertible design (right)

More recently, Intel have updated their Classmate convertible reference design with
a focus on improving hardware specifications and incorporating slight cosmetic

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 23

The new design comes “rugged enough to survive a fall from the desktop and has a
thick rubber coating that offers a good grip and is spillproof” (Ganapati, 2010)

4.3 Classmate PC distribution

In addition to OEM’s, Intel also works alongside original design manufacturers

(ODM’s) and independent software vendors (ISV’s) to issue out Classmate PC’s in
contracted regions. Figure 4.3 illustrates a shortened representation of how this
model may work for Intel-powered Classmate PC’s.

Intel Hardware Key

(1) (1) gives reference design

(2) supplies software etc

Governments (3) passes mass orders to

(4) allocates out to
Local Schools

Figure 4.3 Distribution of Intel-powered Classmate PC’s

In addition, governments may also involve the assistance of local education service
providers and system integrators before Classmate PC’s can be used by students in
schools. Intel’s distribution model is likely to vary for each country; factors such as
the level of government expenditure on education will impact on the reach of
Classmate PC’s. Taking India for example, Intel had signed an agreement with three
local PC vendors (HCL Infosystems, Wipro, and Zenith Computers). However, it
became apparent that the price point of Classmate PC’s would not be cost effective
for government-run schools, therefore prompting “Intel to target the device in the
first phase at private schools” (Ribeiro, 2007).

Just from this basic example, it can be easy to see how successfully aligning the
distribution process can be a complex task. However, being an experienced global
company with many years of success, Intel has identified the best route to get a
product to the market. Because of this, it appears that Intel-powered Classmate PC’s
can be produced and delivered to the market in quick time; as what was expected
when the Portuguese government ordered 500,000 Classmate PC’s with the view to
implement them into schools for the “upcoming school year” (Dignan, 2008).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 24

4.4 Marketing and pricing strategy

Other than just marketing their Classmate PC’s as being an alternative to aiding the
education of children, Intel have a clear focus on promoting, what they call, 1:1 e-
learning. From a promotional leaflet, for Classmate PC’s, Intel states the following:

“Intel-powered classmate PCs were designed to help schools

implement 1:1 education. They provide a rich, interactive, fun

learning experience for kids. And they give teachers new tools to

engage students and enhance the classroom environment”

(Intel Corp, 2010, p. 1)

It is not just students who are viewed as benefiting from using Classmate PC’s.
Intel also stresses the empowerment for teachers, who can enhance their own
teaching experience. The software content of Classmate PC’s are marketed as
allowing “teachers to be more responsive to the moment-by-moment needs of
their students” (Intel Corp, 2010, p. 2). More surprisingly by Intel, they choose
not to brand Classmate PC’s with their corporate logo, a move that prompts IT
reviewer Lemon (2007) to observe that “corporate logos and marketing don't
belong inside schools”.

The pricing policy used by Intel makes it difficult to put a real value of return when
purchases are made by government and individuals. Greenemeier (2009) speculates
that a basic Classmate PC costs about $300 to make, but this does not include
software, installation and ongoing support. It is also important to remember that the
contracted local manufacturer sets the final price for consumers and that Intel makes
the majority of their income (and profit) from creating the processors. For Intel Atom
processors, expected to be placed in new Classmate PC models, it has been
speculated that Intel can expect very profitable yields of 90 per cent; a single
processor is rumoured to cost $6-$8, to be sold onto system vendors at roughly $40
(Valich, 2008).

Further development on Atom processor technology, most notably the N450 model,
can be expected to “significant manufacturing efficiencies as well”; through
integrating graphics into the processor, thus potentially reducing the overall unit cost
of a Classmate PC because of one less component, but still providing Intel with a
greater profit margin when compared to older Atom processors (Hobbes, 2009).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 25

4.5 Summary

The approach used by Intel is a simple one; they have identified their core
competency in producing high quality computer processors and combined that with
the vision of being able to power devices for use in enhancing learning. Being an
established computer organisation, the for-profit approach used by Intel seems to
have helped towards the good response in sales; two million Classmate PC’s are
reportedly in use around the globe, with many more on order. This could be down to
the hierarchical structure an organisation like Intel would have; with an important
emphasis on meeting targets and objectives on a constant basis.

More interestingly, Intel’s Classmate PC project is not just a full for-profit venture.
Intel also support community schemes in developing countries such as by providing
a shared community Classmate laptop for those schools are cannot afford a full-
scaled implementation at the present time; possibly with the view to secure
relationships for the possible future order of laptops.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 26

Chapter Five – Primary Research

This chapter will detail the methodology used to design the questionnaire along with
reasoning behind the questions asked. Results obtained from the primary research
will also be displayed. In addition to the statistical data, a general overview of
responses will be further looked into.

5.1 Methodology

The questionnaire was available as an internet link by making use of the online
application available on Internet forums were identified as a
suitable means of communication in order to increase global coverage of the
questionnaire. Rather than randomly placing the questionnaire link on various sites,
targeted forums were identified on and

There was no limit concerning sample sizes because it was hard to tell how many
people were going to see and click on the questionnaire link. The questionnaire was
made available online for a period of 3 months to allow for enough time for analysis.

5.1.1 Questionnaire design

The questionnaire contained a mixture of open and closed questions, using
qualitative and quantitative methods. Consideration of the research ethics (Appendix
B), as set by the University of Portsmouth, was adhered to at all times to ensure the
research methods carries out were fair and not bias. Those who participated in the
questionnaire were clearly made aware of the nature of the survey and were offered
the chance of anonymity if they do not wish to have their real names or forum
usernames included in the analysis of results. Data collected was not amended and it
was clearly stated that electronic copies of questionnaires were to be destroyed once
no longer needed. For the analysis of questionnaire data, the reporting tools on were used.

Table 3 looks at each proposed survey question and gives a brief explanation as to
why the question is being asked, and for what type of information will be collected;
quantitative or qualitative?

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 27

Question Type Reason for question

1. Which of the following applies to quantitative To find out whether the participants own
you? an XO laptop themselves or have
experience using one
2. How did you get your XO laptop? quantitative To see how people got their XO laptop.
Also looking to find any alternative
sources of obtaining XO laptops
3. For what purpose do you use your quantitative Why forum members have an XO laptop
XO laptop? and what further purpose is it used for
4. How would you rate your experience quantitative To find out how they perceive their
of using the XO laptop? experience of using the laptop
4(b). Briefly state why you think this qualitative To expand on question 4
5. What year did you become aware of quantitative Are forum members the ‘early adopters’
the OLPC initiative? or ‘laggards’ of OLPC
6. How would you rate the level of quantitative Find out whether OLPC has achieved a
media coverage that OLPC has good level of media attention. Could be
received? linked with its perceived success (Q.6)
7. How would you rank the following quantitative To find out what is considered as being
media as being key to advertising the the most appropriate method for OLPC
OLPC initiative? to advertise the laptop and goals
8. How would you rate the success of quantitative Whether the XO could be considered as
the XO laptop since its release? being a successful product or not
8(b). Briefly state why you think this qualitative To expand on question 8
9. Could the XO laptop compete quantitative Would it be viable for the XO to
commercially against current netbooks crossover to a commercial market but
on the market? still maintain their non-profit status
9(b). Briefly state why you think this qualitative To expand on question 9
10. What should be considered as quantitative As OLPC incorporates both business and
most important to supporting the OLPC technical elements, which should be
initiative? considered as needing more focus
11. Do you agree with the idea that quantitative Would a for-profit approach benefit the
OLPC should act more like a for-profit management and organisation of OLPC
business in order to boost and provide a better platform for the XO
sales/success? laptop to succeed
11(b). Briefly state why you think this qualitative To expand on question 11
12. (From a business perspective) If qualitative To allow for future recommendations to
you had to change anything about the be made. The idea is get general
OLPC initiative, what would it be and business proposals rather than on the
how would it change the organisation’s technical side e.g. upgrading the
performance? hardware/software of the XO laptop

Table 3. Question justification for survey

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 28

Being short in length, the questionnaire was designed with consideration of forum
users who prefer filling in questionnaires in a short period of time. For those who
wished to make more input, further response was allowed in the style of answering
open-ended questions. Appendix E shows the layout of the online questionnaire.

5.1.2 Questionnaire constraints

Having the questionnaire in an electronic format, and only being accessible online,
may bring up the concern over the validity of results collected. Fortunately, had the tools to trace the location of completed surveys by means
of internet protocol (IP) address and local time of completion. However, this does not
rule out the possibility of respondents completing multiple surveys on different
computers and thus skewing the final results. Faith was therefore placed on the
participants to ethically complete the questionnaire and not compromise the results. operates on a subscription-based model and a variety of packages

are offered; each with different features enabled and disabled. Figure 5.1 briefly
highlights the main differences between each package type.

Figure 5.1 SurveyGizmo account types (Widgix Software LLC, 2010a)

This questionnaire was created using the ‘Free’ package plan. This was because the
level of respondents per month was not expected to exceed 250. Also, the extra
functionalities on offer such as ‘File Upload Space’ or ‘Email Invitations’ were not
required for this research project.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 29

5.1.3 Questionnaire response
The response rate for the questionnaire was calculated at being 30 per cent.
However, this calculation only makes use of the actual ‘completed’ responses against
those which are, considered by SurveyGizmo as being, ‘abandoned’ (see figure 5.2).

Figure 5.2 SurveyGizmo summary of results (Widgix Software LLC, 2010b)

It is possible that these summary results could be considered as being skewed

because of the way they are calculated. For example, a forum user may have clicked
on the questionnaire link to initially view the questionnaire only to actually go back
and complete the questionnaire a few hours/days later. It is unclear whether
SurveyGizmo’s statistics algorithm makes an exception for this possibility. After
further investigation, it was found that there is an option available to view
abandoned survey data; holding details such as IP address and referrer link.
However, this is only possible for ‘Enterprise’ account holders on SurveyGizmo.

Concerning the geographical location of responses, figure 5.2 shows a significant

cluster of responses coming from the American region. This was to be expected
considering the hosting location of the targeted internet forums being based in the
US. Additionally, a majority of forum users got their interest in OLPC through
purchasing a laptop from the G1G1 program (see figure 5.5); a program that was
predominantly marketed only in US during the 2007 campaign.

The initial response level to the questionnaire was slow-paced. However, thanks to
being given permission to post on the front page of the independently run site (see figure 5.3), by editor Wayan Vota, the number of responses
increased rapidly.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 30

Figure 5.3 News posting of the questionnaire (Patel, 2009)

Of the two targeted forums that links to the questionnaire were posted; and, those from made up 72 per cent
of the total respondents.

5.2 Questionnaire results

5.2.1 General questions

These questions were asked to get a general overview of the forum users who
responded to the questionnaire and to find out their purpose of having an interest in
the XO laptop.

Select your Gender

Male – 86%
Female – 14%

Of the 70 respondents to the questionnaire, 60 declared themselves as being male in

comparison to 10 who were female. From these results, it appears that the main
audience for people, with an interest in the OLPC project, are male. It is important to
note that, as an organisation, OLPC do not appear to gear themselves towards a
specific gender group.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 31

Question 1: Which of the following applies to you?

I own an XO laptop 94%

I don't own an XO laptop 6%

but I have used one before

None of the above 0%

Figure 5.4 Relation to the XO laptop

The results in figure 5.4 show that the OLPC forum users were highly likely to own an
XO laptop equating to 66 out of 70 people. Of the four who do not personally own
one, they had previous experience of using the laptop.

5.2.2 The XO laptop

Of the 66 respondents who owned an XO laptop, questions 2 and 3 were designed to
find out how they came to own their laptop and for what primary purpose it is used.
Question 4 asks for an experience rating of using the XO laptop.

Question 2: How did you get your XO laptop?

Through the Give 1 84%

Get 1 program

Through an auction site 4%

Other 12%

Figure 5.5 Method of obtaining the XO laptop

The Give 1 Get 1 program (as briefly discussed in chapter three), came out on top as
the most popular of obtaining an XO laptop at 84 per cent (57 people). For people
who selected the ‘other’ option, other methods of XO ownership included it being
given as a donation, through a development program, loan from employer (Google).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 32

Question 3: For what purpose do you use your XO laptop?

Novelty item 24%

As a testing machine 16%

As an educational aid 7%

Travel laptop 3%

Other 50%

Figure 5.6 Main purpose of using the XO laptop

XO laptop owners were found to have varied uses for their laptop. Of all the
responses, a quarter of the XO owners (16 people) only used the laptop as a
novelty item closely followed by 11 people who saw it as a testing machine.
Initially not part of the selection of answers, a common response under ‘Other’
saw the laptop being used a travel laptop/netbook. Using the laptop an eBook
reader and as a self learning device were other common answers. Rather than
using the laptop for one purpose, it was evident that the XO laptop was a very
useful tool for multi-taking functions. Combinations such as being able to use it a
portal device to surf the internet, check emails and carry out basic networking
abilities seemed to be in keeping with OLPC’s target to produce a multi-functional
laptop that is versatile and rugged for everyday use.

Question 4: How would you rate experience of using the XO laptop?

Excellent 9%

Very good 33%

Satisfied 41%

Not satisfied 17%

Figure 5.7 Rated experience of using an XO laptop

The general response saw that 41 per cent (29 people) found their experience of
using the XO laptop as being a satisfying one. The same amount of people also found
the experience as being either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 33

Question 4b: Briefly state why you think this
Common further comments included an impressed feeling over the design of the
laptop when considering it has been built for children in mind. Some commented on
the new interface as being slow and not useful for multi-tasking applications. Others
cited technical faults and suggestion that users have to be technically knowledgeable
to use the XO laptop. Few felt the price was justifiable for the hardware on offer.

5.2.3 The OLPC project

The questions from now on focus on the OLPC, as an organisation, and were created
to see the respondents’ awareness of the project along with their views on common
issues/recommendations that OLPC face.

Question 5: What year did you become aware of the OLPC initiative?


Figure 5.8 The year which knowledge of the OLPC project occurred

OLPC formed in 2005, and the results in figure 5.8 show that the forum users
knew about the project from an early stage. 33 people (60 per cent) were early
observers of the project during either 2005 or 2006. 26 people (39 per cent)
became aware in the year 2007; a time when OLPC became more mainstream.

However, as seen in the graph, there was a big drop-off in people becoming
aware of the project for the years 2008 and beyond. This could be partly due to
forum users being the early adopters of new technologies and as is to why the
initial G1G1 program was a success; in contrast to the 90 per cent drop-off for
the 2008 program, as explained earlier in chapter three.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 34

Question 6: How would you rate the level of media coverage that OLPC has received?

A lot of media coverage 24%

Moderate media coverage 41%

Little media coverage 33%

No media coverage 2%

Figure 5.9 Perception of OLPC’s media coverage

It was found that respondents perceived OLPC’s media coverage to be generally good.
When combined, 65 per cent (46 people) found OLPC to have moderate or a lot of
media coverage. 35 per cent (24 people) believed that OLPC had little to no coverage.

Question 7: How would you rank the following media as being key to advertising the
OLPC initiative?

Table 4. Ranked perception of the importance of advertising media

When asked to rank common media outlets (see table 4), respondents placed blogs,
forums and newspapers/magazines amongst being the most important methods of
reporting and showcasing the OLPC project. Old traditional media such as television,
radio and white papers were considered as being less important.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 35

Question 8: How would you rate the success of the XO laptop since its release
in 2007?

Very successful 9%

Successful 77%

Not successful 14%

Figure 5.10 Perception of OLPC’s success

The general view found that OLPC’s XO laptop has had a ‘successful’ impact since its
release, with 77 per cent (54 people) thinking this. Nearly double the amount of people
found the laptop’s release to be ‘not successful’ when compared to ‘very successful’.

Question 8b: Briefly state why you think this:

The general consensus is that the XO laptop did well for what is wanted to achieve
from the start. However, as time has passed on, there is some strong feeling that
OLPC have not been able to adapt to the changing market considering what has
occurred from within the business (as briefly discussed in chapter three). Some felt
the goals have not, and will not, be met unless a drastic approach to change
happens with its management.

Question 9: Could the XO laptop compete commercially against current netbooks on

the market?

Yes 23%

No 54%

Undecided 23%

Figure 5.11 View of OLPC’s commercial viability

Over half the respondents (38 people) considered OLPC as not being capable of
commercially competing in the netbook market. The same amount of people (16
each) were either undecided or thought OLPC could be competitive in the market.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 36

Question 9b: Briefly state why you think this:
Many of the respondents acknowledged that the XO laptop helped to influence the
netbook market especially with its low cost operating and innovative features.
However, many feel the technology inside the XO laptop incomparable to other
netbook models found in the market. Software and hardware differences are
often cited as being problem areas for the XO laptop in becoming a commercial
success. Future upgrade options are seen as the best approach to improve the
longevity of the product.

Question 10: What should be considered as most important to supporting the

OLPC initiative?

The business goals and 20%


The technical specifications 9%

of the XO laptop

Both have equal importance 71%

Figure 5.12 Perceived focus for OLPC

Between the business and technical sides of OLPC, including the XO laptop, 71
per cent of respondents (50 people) found that both have equal importance to
supporting the initiative. For those who did not select both, 20 per cent found the
‘business goals and objectives’ to be more important when compared to the
‘technical specification for the XO laptop’ (9 per cent).

Question 11: Do you agree with the idea that OLPC should act more like a for-profit
business in order to boost sales/success?

Yes 36%

No 40%

Undecided 24%

Figure 5.13 View that OLPC should be more profit-driven

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 37

When asked should OLPC act in a more for-profit way, a near split decision is
seen between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ with only a 4 per cent (3 people) difference between
the two. 24 per cent (17 people) remained undecided with the view.

Question 11b: Briefly state why you think this:

Those who selected ‘no’ (see figure 5.13) were often found to express their
concerns over OLPC deviating away from their philanthropic goals; if they were to
act in a more profit way. Due to the small scale of OLPC operations, when
compared other netbook market leaders, it was believed that a for-profit
approach would not be viable when costs such as wages and further research
development would have to increase. In contrast, others expressed the possibility
that offering a technically better product at a better price point would be able to
achieve economies of scale if carefully managed. Some also pointed to the G1G1
program as being a step towards acting in a more for-profit way.

Question 12: (From a business perspective) If you had to change anything about
the OLPC initiative, what would it be and how would it change the organisation’s

One of the most common suggestions was to make XO laptop commercially available
in retail stores; allowing for any profits to be routed back to the project. Some
expressed their concerns over the bulk purchasing requirement and think it should
be removed to prevent putting off prospective governments from making initial
testing purchases. Rather than relying on one product, further proposed ideas
include the production of many lines of laptop; each targeted towards a specific

Additional ideas included the release of patented innovations in the XO laptop

possibly out to other educational technology devices and working in a collaborative
way. Some comments about communication throughout the organisation suggest the
company should go back to their open-source roots and more freely allow the
technical community, usually found on internet forums, to have a greater input into
future development of the laptop.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 38

5.3 Summary of research

As was expected, the forum users who responded to the questionnaire were very
knowledgeable and they gave very useful views regarding the OLPC initiative.
Despite not being compulsory, all the open-ended questions provided some
detailed reasoning’s for their choice of answers (see Appendix F).

It was evident that the respondents were mostly technically oriented in relation to
the XO laptop, but they were able to give recommendations for how OLPC’s non-
profit approach to this project could be improved. This included the return of
previous funding programs like G1G1 and the need for OLPC to go back to their
original open-source roots and to not become commercialised by being dictated
by industry-norm standards. This would help to ensure that OLPC remains a
unique project and that it could continue for future years ahead.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 39

Chapter Six – Further Discussion

Now that all research has been gathered, this chapter will aim to find any similarities
or differences between the primary and secondary sources. The chapter has been
split into sub-sections, each highlighting the important areas of discussion which
have been brought up and are relevant to the research question. Most responses
were directed towards the G1G1 program hence why this is positioned first in the
chapter. Appendix F contains all the responses from the qualitative questions from
the online questionnaire (Appendix E).

6.1 The G1G1 program

Whilst being one of the most popular sources for an adult to obtain an XO laptop,
and at the same time supporting the OLPC initiative by having an XO laptop donated
to a child in a developing country, the G1G1 program was dropped following two
very contrasting years of operation. An estimated 90 per cent decrease in purchases,
from $35 million (2007 program) to a disappointing $3.5 million (2008 program),
was seen. Negroponte conceded that this was not good enough and was quickly
quoted to place the blame “in keeping with the economic times” (Shah, 2009).
However, what we fail to hear more of, from OLPC, is of how the G1G1 program was
managed during the two years. After the relative success of the first year’s program,
it could be considered that OLPC were too eager to expand the program after just
one year of operation. Buderi (2009) mentions the two/three-fold increase in G1G1’s
advertising and marketing costs; coming “close to $20 million”, as being a good
reason for OLPC’s operating budget taking a “huge blow”. There also seems to be
less clarity over the deployment of G1G1 laptops in developing countries; leading to
one response from the survey questioning why “we never hear about the laptops
that have been deployed through the G1G1 campaign” (56578799). Another
suggests OLPC should have been “more open…in order to get the public and
governments excited and set expectations” (57642571). If this was the case, then
OLPC may not have needed to quickly develop a new strategy in order to “make the
project sustainable”; after the expected bulk orders from governments were not
being fulfilled (Paul, 2009).

6.1.1 The G1G1 community

G1G1 was clearly the most popular method of obtaining an XO laptop for those who
answered the questionnaire; coming in at 84 per cent (figure 5.5). It could be said,
as a direct consequence from the G1G1 program, a collection of online/offline

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 40

communities were setup; dedicated to air personal views of OLPC and the XO laptop.
One of the most popular communities can be found on’s forum.
However, a common criticism aimed towards OLPC, as a non-profit organisation, is
the failure to recognise the G1G1 community as an alternative source of helping
OLPC achieving its mission; leading one person to say “OLPC almost totally ignores
one of its greatest assets: the G1G1 community. With the right incentives this group
could grow exponentially” (54857541). Another comments on how his XO laptop is
an “eye-catcher…this gives me a great opportunity to talk about the technological
advances made by OLPC to produce this machine and also the goals of the OLPC
project” (56599264).

It was also found that, if given the chance, the community would be willing to
support and technically develop towards future models of the XO laptop. One
response calls for giving “skilled people a chance to hack/develop on the XO. To
learn about it first hand. To blog about it” (56849838). For a non-profit organisation,
this type of publicity and support could be seen as being invaluable in spreading the
mission, rather than using up resources on advertising campaigns; which may have
largely contributed to the reported “$1 million a month” in operating costs (Buderi,
2009). Linked to table 4, it was found that the ‘television’ and ‘public displays’ were
ranked lower in importance for advertising the OLPC initiative. The blog approach
suggested by respondent 56849838 would seem to be a more appropriate
advertising method considering it was also ranked as being the most valuable
advertising source, closely followed by internet forums.

Another outlook on the G1G1 program found the view that too many people “did not
understand that the XO was a purpose built machine and thus were disappointed…
This damaged the XO brand by creating a meme that the XO-1 was under powered
and not a real computer” (56849838). This type of thought may have been a reason
behind such incidences with the XO laptop where people were “excited to look at it.
Within a couple minutes they are cursing and within 10 minutes they hand it back to
me happy to never look at one again” (61654536). This brings up the question
whether the G1G1 program, at first, should have been targeted to a select group of
technical specialists rather than to the masses. This may have resulted in better
constructive feedback on the technical side of the XO laptop and on OLPC as an
organisation; covering areas such as how to deploy laptops and market educational
products to prospective governments.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 41

6.1.2 G1G1 2010?
Despite there being no plans for the G1G1 program to return for the coming year,
possibly due to reasons such as the recession causing individuals/governments to
scale back on purchases of XO laptop, research found that there is still a demand for
the program to return. currently only has a G1 program where an
individual can donate one or more laptops to children in developing countries; not
getting one in return (see figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1 G1 program (, 2010)

Research found that the general view that G1G1 should become a permanent
program. Although, OLPC should learn from the past difficulties they encountered in
its 2007 and 2008 programs; with one person describing the “shipping issue for the
original G1G1 was a pain” (56071275). The decision to leave delivery logistics to, during its 2008 program, was a welcomed one and warranted such
survey responses asking to use “ right away for G1G1 program” but at
the same time putting in a “reliable supply chain in place to quickly satisfy demand”
(56664641); more to prevent past instances, such as when the delivery of XO
laptops to the donors were delayed because of “high demand” and “production
delays” (Paul, 2008a), from repeating again.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 42

6.2 OLPC’s management

Looking back at figure 2.2, OLPC would be placed under the organisation type
‘Nonprofit Organization’. OLPC would therefore heavily operate on the basis of
funding from external sources and additional programs (as seen with the G1G1
program). However, that is not to say this is an easy process to manage especially
with the negotiation processes a firm like OLPC would have to undertake in order to
secure funding and bulk government orders for its XO laptops.

6.2.1 Change in direction

When OLPC decided to go against their original open source motives and allow
support for the Windows XP operating system (Fildes, 2008), this was seen to have
driven the movement away from their original mission goals (Schestowitz, 2009).
The view that the “world is MS trained” (57324557) could go as far to explain the
reason why some governments wanted XP-only laptops; increasing the viability of
XO laptops for the future and preparing children for the standardised software which
they would be expected to learn. In contrast, one response from the survey believed
that this change in direction is a problem because it “will produce more good little
developing world cookie-cutter workers, rather than innovating, educated
transformative humans” (56599264). It could then be viewed that OLPC wanted to
move away from their sole educational objectives and goals, and were more
interested in “getting as many laptops out there as possible, no matter the means”
(Schestowitz, 2009).

More damaging for OLPC, was how this change in direction may have contributed to
some of the losses in its board members (as briefly discussed in chapter three) and
“the reason that Sugar Labs became it's own entity” (55019597). Rather than being
concerned about the wishes of adults in higher government positions, and becoming
yet another standardised laptop product, OLPC should be challenged to go back to
their open source roots and “keep carving out a niche as an educational device for
kids” (56679611). This may help to bring back the uniqueness of the project and
attract greater attention from those wanting to move away from the current
standardised products found in the market.

6.2.2 An educational or laptop project?

The OLPC organisation remains adamant that the initiative is an ‘educational, not a
laptop project’. Felsenstein (2007) highlights the point that in order for OLPC to be
classed an educational product; they should “proceed from the basis of an analysis
as to what is wrong with education in the developing world and how it could be

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 43

fixed”. However, this still seems to have not been addressed with such responses
from the survey questioning why they “could not find a lesson plan suggesting how
to use it for certain ages” (56967703). This seems to be a significant issue especially
in situations where schools do not have the additional funding for classroom support,
maintenance etc; thus being “disregarded in the rush to get computers into
children’s hands immediately” and thus “planning, pilot programs, evaluation, and
staged implementation are eschewed” (Warschauer, 2009).

Operating as a non-profit, it would appear that OLPC have difficulty providing the
resources in order to offer after support once laptops are deployed. Placing the
responsibility with the school, or intern deployment volunteers, may affect the
quality of learning for a child. As one response from the survey puts it, “agendas are
no substitute for quality, and OLPC seemed to be far more motivated by deluded
agendas than by any fundamental commitment to quality” (57171025).

To overcome these shortcomings and focusing issues, one survey response proposes
the possibility of splitting the organisation up (further than what it is currently like;
as displayed in table 1) where “one group should deal with tech, one group should
deal with distribution, one group should deal with for-profit sales” (56617305).
However, this approach would require a high level of communication and, with OLPC
being a non-profit, it may be viewed that there are no clear communication
procedures in place; “from what I read on olpc there is also a lack of communication
between the grassroot and the HQ” (56617305). This would not be expected from a
for-profit project such as Intel’s Classmate PC; where careful coordination between
OEM’s, ODM’s and ISV’s is crucial to ensuring the correct implementation process
and delivery of laptops to the customer; be it whether an individual purchaser or
whole school department. OLPC were not able to offer this level of efficiency for its
G1G1 program; when they had “to prioritize delivery of laptops to developing
countries, which left many donors waiting” (Paul, 2008a).

6.3 The competing markets

As Vaughan-Nichols (2009) has already hypothesised the idea that OLPC kick started
the netbook market; a common view shared by responses in the survey such as
“olpc single-handedly created the netbook market” (55911245) and “it helped to
start the netbook category of laptops” (56585524), the XO laptop now faces
competition in the different markets they operate in. For the educational market,
alternative products in the market include the Classmate PC (see chapter three) and,
whilst not technically classed a portable device like a laptop, an advanced desktop

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 44

virtualisation solution from US technology firm NComputing (
More interestingly, these two companies operate on a for-profit basis and recognise
that they are competing with OLPC in the same market space. A for-profit approach
may be a reason behind why these companies have been able to take potential XO
laptop sales away from OLPC; as seen when the Portuguese government decided to
purchase Intel Classmate PC’s over the XO (Dignan, 2008) and with NComputing
winning a lucrative contract with “1.8 million schoolchildren in India” (Emigh, 2008)
ahead of both OLPC and Intel, because of the abilities to offer a better quality and
more cost-effective product for the purchasers to maintain in the future.

Whilst OLPC may not be focused on targeting this area, within the commercial
sector, the rise in competition from established computer manufacturers such as
Acer and Asus may be doing harm for OLPC in reaching their goals. These companies
operate, again, in a for-profit way and are able to achieve the economies of scale to
compete on price and manufacturing costs. Because of this, over 50 per cent of
respondents in the survey believed that the XO laptop could not compete
commercially against current netbooks in the market (figure 5.11).

6.3.1 A commercial approach

One response views that OLPC “failed by trying to restrict itself to academia”
(56581491). This brings up the question of whether OLPC’s decision to focus just on
meeting education needs was the right approach. Research found a variety of
additional uses for the XO laptop ranging from adults using it as a self learning tool
for learning the Linux operating system and it even being used as a “portable unit on
our boat” with such advantages identified as “power being one of the key. (Sail boats
only have a small 12v budget)” (56634423). If OLPC was able to tap into these
additional uses for the XO laptop, there could be a possibility to exploit areas of the
laptop market which have not yet been indentified by larger for-profit organisations.
This type of approach would be pushing OLPC towards a more for-profit structure
and when looking at the results from question 11 (figure 5.13), there seems to be
split decision on whether OLPC should deviate away from only targeting the
educational market. If this was the case, then we possibly would not have seen the
“revolution in portable, cheap computer hardware” which led to “LCD innovations and
a greater consciousness for increased battery life and a smaller environmental
impact” (56792352).

For those who did not believe the XO laptop could compete commercially, and in a
for-profit way, it was clear that the “XO laptop is for children to learn better” and

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 45

that “netbooks are for adults with other kind of software” (54835724). It can also be
viewed that, because of the demanding nature of consumers and the level of
technology expected from a new product, “technology advances too fast for the OLPC
platform to remain competitive” (56893081). Decentralising the organisation into
separate divisions, as briefly mentioned in 6.3.2, could help to look after areas such
as “electricity, Internet, microfinance, and electronic textbooks” (56763757); areas
which, Negroponte was quoted as saying, OLPC are “simply not qualified to do so”
(Camfield, 2009). A commercial arm to the organisation may help to give OLPC “the
motivation to shake the bugs and missing features out of the product” (56581491).

Camfield (2009) suggests a more appropriate solution, incorporating a greater

commercial approach whilst at the same time still maintaining the non-profit goals,
in which OLPC should commercially sell at just above cost value to anyone rather
than only to governments. Here, he sees the opportunity to sidestep the difficulties
found in convincing governments of the value of the laptop. From this approach, it
may help create “some side markets in support, software development for non-
educational uses of the laptop like rural healthcare” and, to still maintain the
educational goals of OLPC, it “could enable educational uses without going through
the schools themselves” (Camfield (2009). Whilst this approach may be ideal,
without the high level of economies of scale, OLPC may not be able to manufacturer
XO laptops at a sustainable cost price for general consumer release. Maybe the
question here is what kind of order levels are required to produce XO laptops at an
efficient price?

6.4 New funding sources

The reduction in corporate sponsorship could be viewed to have overwhelmed

“OLPC’s sustainability” and the reason why, “in order to compensate for lower
resources, the organization was forced to cut half of its staff” (Paul 2009). Responses
from the survey pointed towards OLPC’s inability to react more positively in the wake
of reduced sponsorship money. Rather than cutting back on such programs like
G1G1, responses from the survey suggested new alternative methods for OLPC to
fund its mission and expand its operations.

With the XO laptop containing a range of technological innovations in low-cost

computing, most notably with its low-powered LCD screen and long battery life,
there is the opportunity to license out some of the patented innovations to other
computing companies. Whilst this may cause more competition for the XO laptop,
the licensing fees obtained could be reinvested back into research and development

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 46

for future models of the XO laptop. Alternatively, OLPC could form closer
collaborations with commercial companies; who could then distribute and brand XO
laptops under their name. To fit closely with its educational purpose, one response
calls for XO laptops to be made “available marketwise to parents and educators in
the US. Have FisherPrice brand and sell them” (56634423). This approach would
closely follow the distribution model that Intel’s Classmate PC uses (figure 4.3).
Where Intel can achieve the economies of scale by allowing production of Classmate
PC’s to occur locally, OLPC could benefit from lower distribution and manufacturing
costs whilst at the same time helping to create jobs in those developing regions; an
issue that could be considered as being just as important as revolutionising the
development of children’s learning in developing countries.

Whilst not technically a way to increase funding, creating more alliances with non
government organisations (NGO) could be a useful way for “OLPC in deploying more
laptops effectively” (57746128). Here the idea is to create more pilot schemes in
developed countries; leading to greater attention and additional funding to help
support the mission in developing regions. As figure 5.9 shows, the level of perceived
media coverage achieved by OLPC varied from little to moderate; with one person
commenting that “where I live (Québec, Canada), hardly anybody has heard of the
XO” and that “were it just for the mass media in my province, I would no close to
zilch about the XO” (57013417). So the issue here is the need for OLPC to openly
penetrate the developed world and get the benefits of using the XO laptop across
more clearly; rather than relying on internet sources to market and update on the
progress made from the OLPC initiative.

Becoming consultants; where OLPC would be in the “business of helping countries

wanting to deploy computers running the sugar software in schools, and acquire
internet connectivity” (56607485), could be considered as being a more drastic
method of creating extra funds. As Sugar Labs now operates as a separate company
away from OLPC, a more appropriate solution could be to create a strategic alliance
between both companies; where Sugar Labs could provide the software expertise to
support the consulting and for OLPC to supply the XO laptops. Encouraging recent
news, where OLPC was able to sign a “permanent and royalty-free cross-licensing
agreement” (Hartley, 2010) with innovative screen manufacturer Pixel Qi (formed by
ex-OLPC employee Mary Lou Jepson), shows there are opportunities for OLPC to
form exclusive agreements with external companies; even if having a humanitarian
focus is considered as being an important condition of such agreements.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 47

6.5 Future considerations for OLPC

For OLPC to continue as non-profit organisation, the general consensus is that OLPC
should change the current way in which it is organised and managed; otherwise they
could risk losing potential orders to more established names in the market such as
Intel and NComputing. Beckford (2008) argues the case that OLPC would operate
better as a for-profit as benefits can be achieved from having a “vibrant ecosystem”;
where those entities that make up the background of OLPC could work together in
being more innovative and the “amount of investment by all involved would increase
far more significantly as sales grow”. These firms, behind the scenes, are already
operating as for-profit companies and therefore are looking to achieve levels of
efficiency to remain competitive in the market. The “competitive environment” is also
seen by Beckford as a way of remaining innovative as “competition is the essence of
what makes products and companies successful”. However, as already questioned by
one response from the survey, it is “skeptical that profit and openness can coexist”
(57853810), OLPC would have to decide whether they can maintain their original
open source motives and, at the same time, cater towards the requirements made
by governments and schools by producing the best low-cost laptop in the market.

As technology continues to evolve at a fast pace, OLPC should be aware of

technological advancements in the market, especially when “you can buy $100
netbooks that are as good as the $200 XO” (56605868). Whilst the announcement of
the XO-3 model has done well to publicise OLPC, it should be remembered that “CG
mockups and philanthropic promises aren’t the same as real, shipping hardware”
(Sorrel, 2009). Here it can be viewed that OLPC are, again, becoming too ambitious
in their future intentions especially with the target of producing a $75 laptop with
technology that does not exist at such a low cost. However, in a change from their
current methods, “as OLPC assembles the components for its dream machine, it
plans to open the architecture of the device to allow any other PC maker to take over
the project” (Greenberg, 2009); it seems that OLPC wants to threaten the computing
industry to create more cheaper laptops for the purpose of supporting educational
needs of children in order to compete with the potential XO-3 model.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 48

Chapter Seven – Conclusion

The purpose of this research project was to investigate the non-profit model used by
OLPC and its effect on their success; or more specifically, the lack of success
especially with the “hard lessons learned and challenges the organization faces”
(Buderi, 2009). For a balanced argument, the for-profit approach, as adopted by
other companies in the same market, was also referred to throughout (focusing on
one main competitor in chapter four). The project objectives are outlined on page 3.

7.1 Conclusion of the project

The investigation has shown that OLPC’s approach in using a non-profit business has
had a major effect in all areas of the organisation. To say that it has had a complete
negative effect on the organisation would be unfair. Without the non-profit approach,
the design and creation of innovative features in the XO laptop may not have
occurred because there was a focus on creating a laptop at the lowest cost possible
whilst still containing features to suit the target market; children. Negroponte is
quoted as saying OLPC targets and challenges “things the normal commercial market
won’t be pushing?” (Buderi, 2009). With OLPC’s formation, we may not have seen
the creation of other humanitarian-driven projects such as Sugar Labs and Pixel Qi;
both still work closely with OLPC. Having a non-profit status has also been identified
as a good route to negotiating with governments and other leading charitable
causes. Here, rather being driven by profit, the goal is to improve the humanity of
those in less fortunate positions. With this comes the drive to continue and achieve
the mission; OLPC have recently signed a partnership with EAC with the aim is to get
“computers to every primary school child in East Africa” (Fildes, 2010). In the article,
Matt Keller, of OLPC, is quoted to estimate that there are currently 1.6 million XO
laptops around the world; with commitments for another 400,000.

On the other hand, the non-profit approach used by OLPC can be seen to have
contributed to some of the downfalls they have experienced so far. The movement
away from an open-source laptop approach was seen to be a driver behind such
instances like the loss in its management team. The difference in OLPC’s and Intel’s
motives was considered to be the main reason behind their initial partnership
breaking down. In OLPC’s case, being a non-profit organisation during an economic
recession was not the best combination; leading to programs like G1G1 having to be
scrapped (Paul, 2009) and cuts in its staff being made (Musil, 2009) in order to
survive on their tight budget they operate on.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 49

Recommendations suggested for OLPC included the need for extra funding programs
to be introduced. The G1G1 program was identified as being the most promising for
OLPC; with calls for the program to return but with better management this time
round. Additionally, more realistic targets were thought to lead to better results.
OLPC were seen as being too ambitious in their distribution estimates and this would
be something that should not continue otherwise the project could be deemed as
being one lead by broken promises.

7.2 Answering the objectives

Before explaining how the objectives were met, it should first be considered if the
correct objectives were set. As was found from the research, additional areas that
could have been investigated included the educational impact of the XO laptop.

In answering the first objective, it was found that the non-profit sector is made up of
a variety of organisation types. Appendix C lists these; as classified by the US IRS.
Each classification has different requirements to each other; with some being able to
claim tax-exempt status for each of their business operations. Worth (2009)
identifies the common trend for non-profits to split up into different operations arms;
as a workaround to the restrictions imposed by governments. OLPC could be viewed
to have also taken this approach with the creation of their ‘foundation’ and
‘association’ arms (see Table 1). In relation to the public and private sectors, Gunn
(2004) proposes the emergence of hybrid organisations as the boundaries between
each industry sector are suggested to be merging together.

Answering objective 2, Phills (2005) describes the mission statement as being the
reason “why people get up in the morning and go to work in a nonprofit” (p. 22).
Table 1 lists the mission statements of OLPC’s operations. It appeared that OLPC
have had the tendency to change their mission goals and objectives over the past
few years; to much criticism from Vota (2010). Whilst Kickingbird (2002) recognises
the need for mission statement to be flexible over time, Worth (2009) calls for this
element of a non-profit to not become either narrowed or broad; otherwise there is a
risk of the organisation not being able to meet their motives. In basic terms, OLPC’s
vision is to change the way that children learn by making use of technology;
specifically with the use of the XO laptop.

Upon answering objective 3, it was found that OLPC could be credited to have
started the current netbook market and its rapid growth (Vaughan-Nichols, 2009).
Table 2 looks at the other devices, which could be considered as being challengers to

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 50

the XO laptop, and their market share as of 2008. With the fast changing nature of
technology, the table may look different now; but shows that there is much
competition in the market.

Chapter four looked into Intel’s approach for getting their Classmate PC design to the
market. To reiterate the point, Intel use a for-profit approach in order to distribute
and manufacture the Classmate PC; through the partnerships between OEM’s and
OED’s. To answer objective 4, the many differences were learnt between OLPC’s
non-profit approach and a for-profit approach; as used by Intel. The main ones are
briefly highlighted below:

 OLPC have control over the designs of the XO laptop whereas Intel only
provide a reference design for their Classmate PC; which can be modified by
its ODM’s/OEM’s.

 OLPC source components through its partnerships with technology firms

willing to fund and contribute to the mission. Intel provide and manufacture
the main hardware components themselves.

 OLPC oversee the production side by sending orders through to the one
location that manufacturers them. Through their OEM’s, Intel have a global
distribution network.

 OLPC aim to produce at the lowest cost possible; targeting at $100. Intel
allows their ODM’s/OEM’s to dictate the final price; the profit is made through
providing the core hardware components.

 OLPC target themselves towards governments; with the aim to achieve bulk
orders which can then be distributed out. Intel allows for the product to be
freely purchased by anyone.

To answer objective 5, it was generally found that the organisation has done well to
achieve a majority of their goals, especially considering they are up against for-profit
companies in the same market space. However, most of the articles read were also
critical of the organisation and suggested change within its management and
approach to meeting their goals. Some suggested ideas were also found to link OLPC
to not falling under some of the strategy and business planning issues, specifically
for non-profits; as identified by Lawrie (2007).

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 51

7.3 Limitations

The biggest limitation of the project was the short time given to complete the
research. This resulted in some missed opportunities that may have contributed
towards better results being achieved. These included the prospect of speaking to
leading experts in the fields of technology and education. This would have required a
lot of early planning and coordination of schedules. Furthermore, more responses
from people directly involved in OLPC operations may have resulted in a more
balanced argument against the research question asked.

The survey collected a total of 70 responses. Whilst this a good sample size, a
greater variety of responses could have brought up more recommendations aimed
towards OLPC and lead to better comparisons being discussed. In some brief
feedback from the respondents, some felt more questions could have been asked to
cover other areas of the organisation such as the impact of the XO laptop around the
world; to produce more objective statistics. It was also felt that some questions were
“too leading for an objective study” (59190192); namely questions 10 and 11.

It was also found that there was limited published literature concerning OLPC. This is
because OLPC have only been in existence for the last few years. This brings up the
question; is it too early in OLPC’s life cycle to assess whether it has been either a
success or not?

7.4 Future expansions

The usual further expansion opportunities would be in getting a larger sample size
and more face-to-face interviews with leading figures.

The research question asks vaguely for whether the organisation has been a
success or not; the interpretation of it being a success can range from the
amount of laptops sold or the new opportunities and innovations that OLPC have
brought to the world. To extend the research question further, we could also look
into the impact of the XO laptop from an educational point of view. Here, the idea
would be to investigate whether the non-profit model used has been a ‘success’ in
enhancing the learning for children in developing countries. This could be done
with observational research from going into classrooms/schools and studying how
the XO laptops are being used and the effects the non-profit business model has
on logistics and local deployment. This approach would be more social sciences-
oriented rather than business-oriented; as with this investigation.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 52

References (2010). Give a Laptop. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from

Barrett, S. (2007, March 7). The Digital Divide: Is There A Solution?. Retrieved
February 11, 2010, from

Beckford, M. (2008, September 5). Why OLPC should be a for-profit business.

Retrieved April 20, 2010, from

Bill and Melinda Gates make $10bn vaccine pledge. (2010, January 29). Retrieved
February 17, 2010, from the BBC news website:

Biz/ (n.d.). Introduction to Business Activity - What are the Public and Private
Sectors?. Retrieved February 25, 2010, from the Business Studies Teaching and
Education Resources website:

Blackwood, A., Wing, K.T., & Pollak, T.H. (2008).THE NONPROFIT SECTOR IN BRIEF:
Facts and Figures from the Nonprofit Almanac 2008: Public Charities, Giving, and
Volunteering. Retrieved February 16, 2010, from the National Center for Charitable
Statistics website:

Buderi, R. (2009, January 29). OLPC 2.0: After Layoffs, One Laptop Foundation
Reboots With New Focus and Big Plans. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from

Camfield, J. (2009, December 10). No OLPC Retail Sales? I'm Still Not Convinced.
Retrieved April 18, 2010, from

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 53

Charbax. (2007, December 3). A 2008 Press Release Prediction: Diamondville XO
Laptop. Retrieved March 10, 2010, from OLPCnews website:

Digitimes. (2008, December). Netbook shipments surge over 160% in 3Q08, say
DisplaySearch. Retrieved March 10, 2010, from the DIGITIMES website:

Dignan, L. (2008, July 30). Intel to deliver 500,000 Classmates to Portugal. Retrieved
March 22, 2010, from

Drucker, P. (1990). Managing the non-profit organization: practices and principles.

New York: Harper Collins.

Emigh, J. (2008, October 14). Intel, OLPC lose to NComputing in the race for India.
Retrieved April 18, 2010, from

Evans, G., & O’Dea, H. (2008, April 7). Service Birmingham: Example of Public
Private Partnership delivering for the Community. Retrieved February 22, 2010, from

Felsenstein, L. (2007, March 14). The Real OLPC Debate: Laptop Project vs.
Education Project. Retrieved April 17, 2010, from

Felten, E. (2007, March 19). OLPC: Too Much Innovation?. Retrieved March 1, 2010,

Fildes, J. (2008, May 15). $100 laptop' embraces Windows XP. Retrieved March 4,
2010, from the BBC news website:

Fildes, J. (2010, April 30). One Laptop per Child targets Middle East and E Africa.
Retrieved 30 April, 2010, from the BBC news website:

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 54

Fisher, K. (2007, May 3). OLPC project clarifies: no plans for Windows support.
Retrieved March 4, 2010, from

Ganapati, P. (2010, March 2). Intel’s New Convertible Classmate PC Doubles as E-

Reader. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from

Gardner, D. (2008, October 6). Needy Children To Receive Laptops With Microsoft
XP, Office. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from

Greenemeier, L. (2009, January 8). New Tech Makes Classroom Computers a Reality
Worldwide. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from

Gunn, C. (2004). Third-sector development: making up for the market. New York:
ILR Press.

Hamm, S. (2008, March 5). Negroponte Seeks a Laptop CEO. Retrieved 13 March,
2010, from

Hartley, A. (2010, March 31). Pixel Qi and OLPC team up to develop laptop screen
tech. Retrieved April 18, 2010, from

HM Treasury. (2010). Public private partnerships. Retrieved February 22, 2010, from
the UK Economics & Finance Ministry website:

Hobbes, J. (2009, August 10). Intel to squeeze more profit from netbooks with next
generation. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from

Hopkins, B.R. (2005). Nonprofit law made easy. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 55

Hruska, J, (2009, January 12). Intel's 2G Classmate PC meant to be more than a
mere machine. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from

Hudson, M. (1995). Managing without profit: the art of managing third-sector

organizations. London: Penguin.

Iacolare, L. (2007, January 27). The Digital Divide: Issues And Possible Solutions.
Retrieved February 11, 2010, from

Intel Corp. (2007). intel-classmate-pc-laptop. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from

Intel Corp. (2008). Intel – News Fact Sheet. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from

Intel Corp. (2010). Intel-powered classmate PCs - Advancing Education Worldwide.

Retrieved March 22, 2010, from Intel’s Official Classmate PC website:

Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c) (2008).

IRS. (2009, September 15). Social Welfare Organizations. Retrieved March 23, 2010,

iSuppli Corporation. (2008, December 23). Notebook PC Shipments Exceed Desktops

for First Time in Q3. Retrieved February 10, 2010, from

Kaplan, R.S., & Norton. D.P. (2001). The strategy-focused organization: how
balanced scorecard companies thrive in the new business environment. Boston:
Harvard Business School Press.

Kickingbird, L.S. (2002). Marketing Your Mission. In Futter, V. (Ed.), Nonprofit

governance and management (pp. 323-333). Chicago: American Bar Association.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 56

Krazit, T. (2008, January 8). Intel leaves the OLPC after dispute. Retrieved March 10,
2010, from cnet news website:

Krstić, I. (2008, March 18). Maintaining clarity. Retrieved March 11, 2010, from

Lawrie, A. (2007). The Complete guide to business and strategic planning for
voluntary organisation (3rd ed.). London: Directory of Social Change.

Lemon, S. (2007, June 11). Hands on with Intel's Classmate PC. Retrieved March 23,
2010, from

Longino, C. (2006, July 26). India Says No Thanks To The $100 Laptop. Retrieved
March 2, 2010, from

Lyons, M. (2001). Third Sector: The Contribution of Nonprofit and Cooperative

Enterprises in Australia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin Academic.

Malik, H. (2008, April 3). Intel Classmate 2 Gets Official, Available for Individual
Consumer Purchase. Retrieved March 19, 2010, from

Marketwire. (2010, January 21). One Laptop per Child Announces 2010 Field
Volunteer and Internship Opportunities in Afghanistan, Cameroun, Haiti, Mali,
Nicaragua, Palestinian Occupied Territories, Peru, and Rwanda. Retrieved March 4,
2010, from

McKinney, J.B., & Howard, L.C. (1998). Public administration: balancing power and
accountability. Connecticut: Praeger.

MIT Media Lab. (n.d.). Nicholas Negroponte. Retrieved February 13, 2010, from

MIT. (2006, February 15). Moss appointed Media Lab director. Retrieved March 1,
2010, from the MIT news website:

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 57

Morley, D. (2008). Understanding Computers in a Changing Society. Massachusetts:
Course Technology.

Musil, S. (2009, January 9). OLPC slashes workforce in half, cuts salaries. Retrieved
March 12, 2010, from

Negroponte, N. (1995). Being digital. New York: Knopf.

Negroponte, N. (2005, September 28). The Hundred Dollar Laptop-Computing for

Developing Nations. Technology Review’s Emerging Technologies Conference 2005.
MIT Campus: Massachusetts. Retrieved March 6, 2010, from the MIT World website:

OLPC Deployment Data. (2009). Retrieved March 3, 2010, from the official OLPC wiki
information page:

OLPC. (2010a). Vision. Retrieved February 20, 2010, from

OLPC. (2010b). Mission. Retrieved February 24, 2010, from

OLPC. (2010c). The Foundation's Program — focus on grassroots innovations.

Retrieved February 24, 2010, from

OLPC. (2010d). People. Retrieved March 8, 2010, from

ONS. (2008, September 11). Public sector and private sector. Retrieved February 25,
2010, from the Office for National Statistics website:

Patel, M. (2009, December 15). Adult XO Users: Take OLPC Impact Survey!.
Retrieved April 5, 2010, from

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 58

Paul, R. (2008a, January 25). OLPC angering donors: "Give 1 Get 1... some day...
probably". Retrieved April 15, 2010, from

Paul, R. (2008b, March 21). OLPC security expert resigns over reorg as project
flounders. Retrieved March 11, 2010, from

Paul, R. (2008c, April 22). Exodus of key figures from OLPC a troubling sign for
project. Retrieved March 11, 2010, from

Paul, R. (2009, January 30). Behind the OLPC layoffs: G1G1 failure and reduced
sponsorship. Retrieved April 14, 2010, from

Phills, J.A. (2005). Integrating mission and strategy for nonprofit organizations. New
York: Oxford University Press.

Reuters. (2006). negroponte-laptop. Retrieved February 10, 2010, from

Ribeiro, J. (2007, July 23). Intel signs up vendors for Classmate PC in India.
Retrieved March 22, 2010, from

Ricker, T. (2006, May 4). Intel's Eduwise low-cost PC revealed. Retrieved March 18,
2010, from

Schestowitz, Dr. R. (2009, April 2). How OLPC Failed Where Industry Succeeded with
GNU/Linux. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from

Shah, A. (2007a, December 20). OLPC Struggles to Realize Ambitious Vision.

Retrieved March 2, 2010, from

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 59

Shah, A. (2007b, December 31). OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen quits nonprofit effort.
Retrieved March 11, 2010, from

Shah, A. (2009, February 24). OLPC to focus on large-scale deployments of XO

laptops. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from

Soh, K. (2009, January 7). Is it the end of the desktop PC?. Retrieved February 10,
2010, from the Reuters US website:

Sorrel, C. (2009, December 23). XO-3 Concept: A Crazy-Thin Tablet OLPC for Just
$75. Retrieved April 20, 2010, from

Stein, M. (2009). Kicukiro. Retrieved March 3, 2010, from

Stern, J. (2008, August 20). Intel Unveils Tablet Style Classmate PC. Retrieved March
20, 2010, from

U.S. Department of the Treasury. (2008). Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization
(IRS Publication 557). Retrieved February 17, 2010, from the Internal Revenue
Service website:

United Nations. (2005, November 17). Annan unveils rugged $100 laptop for world's
children at Tunis Summit. Retrieved February 13, 2010,

Urban Institute. (n.d.). Nonprofit Organizations: Overview. Retrieved February 16,

2010, from the National Center for Charitable Statistics website:

Valich, T. (2008, March 28). A New Goldmine For Intel: The $6 Atom Processor.
Retrieved March 23, 2010, from

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 60

Vaughan-Nichols, S.J. (2009, May 11). What was the first netbook?. Retrieved
February 28, 2010, from

Vota, W. (2007, January 20). Is Pakistan Really ‘Participating’ in One Laptop Per
Child?. Retrieved March 4, 2010, from

Vota, W. (2009, February 26). Good Idea Gone Bad: $3.5 Million for OLPCorps.
Retrieved March 3, 2010, from

Vota, W. (2010, February 9). OLPC: Please Pick a Mission Statement and Stick with
It. Retrieved March 6, 2010, from

Wang, M. (2009, February 18). Acer expects global netbook market scale to reach 30
million units this year. Retrieved February 28, 2010, from the DIGITIMES website:

Warschauer, M. (2009, December 17). OLPC: How Not to Run a Laptop Program.
Retrieved April 17, 2010, from

Widgix Software LLC. (2010a). SurveyGizmo – Account: Plans. Retrieved February 9,

2010, from

Widgix Software LLC. (2010b). Survey: OLPC Dissertation Questionnaire. Retrieved

April 5, 2010, from

Worth, M.J. (2009). Nonprofit management: principles and practice. Los Angeles:
Sage Publications Inc.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 61


Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 62

Appendix A – Project Initiation Document

School of Computing
Final year project

Mikul Patel - PJS30

Project Initiation Document

Has the non-profit business model

adopted by One Laptop Per Child
hindered its success?

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 63

Project Initiation Document

Basic details

Student name: Mikul Patel (385951)

Has the non-profit business model adopted by

Draft project title:
One Laptop Per Child hindered its success?

Course: Business Information Technology

Project supervisor: Mrs Penny Hart

Outline of the project environment and problem to be solved

Over recent years, the cost of producing affordable technology has drastically been
reduced thanks the rise of powerful emerging countries such as India and China. With
that comes the idea that technology has the potential to help aid education, especially in
developing countries, and lessen the digital divide.

There is no doubt that companies have realised this too with one of the first pioneers of
mass introducing technology in the classroom being the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)
project, fronted by former MIT chairman Nicholas Negroponte. The XO-1 laptop,
released in 2007, is the company’s one and only product with a promised production
cost of only $100. However, OLPC have adopted a unique approach in achieving their
goals in that they operate as a non-profit company and sell only directly to governments,
who then hand out the laptops into the classrooms.

Project aim and objectives

The aim of the project is to determine whether the decision to run OLPC as a non-profit
has contributed to some of the failings that OLPC have experienced and to its worldwide
success since its formation as a concept in January 2005.

In order to meet this aim, there will be smaller objectives that will be looked into first
such as analysing the current state of the OLPC project, what has contributed so far to
its poor initial sales, who it has affected and what has resulted in the market from
OLPC’s introduction.

Project deliverables
The project deliverables will include a final report document, consisting of both primary
and secondary research that I will have carried out. This will include analysis of recent
news topics and a survey of the public’s views surrounding OLPC.

Project constraints
Seeing as the OLPC project only came into existence in 2005, I may have to rely heavily
on internet news sources and recently published journals. I could come across the
situation where facts and figures are altered or incorrectly published. Therefore the
integrity of data I collect will be important. Using a large variety of sources and cross

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 64

referencing them for similarities and errors will be needed. Also, as I come across
opinions made by authors, it would be my responsibility to assess whether their opinions
are not bias to/against the OLPC project.

Project approach
My approach will aim to allow for a fair and non-biased review of OLPC’s business
model and to answer the question ‘whether adopting a non-profit model was the right
choice’. Ideally I will conclude with my final opinions and suggestions around the topic so
it is vital that I approach this investigation with an open mind.

Being a student, I believe there is still room for more improvement concerning my
referencing skills and effective analysis readings. The university library promotes
students to attend seminars aimed at improving the academic skills that future
employees would expect from graduates.

Facilities and resources

I will need to make good use of the IT facilities at the university especially when it comes
to viewing online library databases and journals that the university exclusively has
access to. Topic areas to be covered would include computing, business and sociology.
There should not be any constraints to using these resources as they are always
available online.

However, the odd occasion could arise where online resources are not accessible due to
IT systems maintenance. These do not usually take long and the university usually
makes sure all students are aware of any issues and scheduled maintenance via email.

Log of risks
As I am also studying other university units during the year, it is important that I manage
my workload well so I do not fall behind on the project. Creating a weekly timetable
allowing for days to concentrate on my other studies and days to work on my project
investigation would be a good starting point.

Naturally, I might not follow the timetable on certain weeks due to examination revision
and other coursework deadlines. Therefore, I would need to reshuffle my timetable and
identify other periods of free time I have spare to concentrate on my project

Starting point for research

The starting point for my research includes reading the following books:

 Managing the non-profit organization: practices and principles. Drucker, Peter F.

 Managing without profit: the art of managing third-sector organizations.
Hudson, M.
 Crossing the chasm. Moore, Geoffrey A.
 The innovator's dilemma: when new technologies cause great firms to fail.
Christensen, Clayton M.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 65

Making use of the official OLPC website ( and the officially linked
articles from it would be useful. Also, the independently run site,,
has a good collection of stories dedicated to the OLPC project.

Project plan
I have decided on setting myself three major project deadlines to meet over the coming
months. Stage 1 will involve the gathering and analysis of all my research from primary
and secondary sources. Moving onto stage 2, I will need to identify where to place the
research findings in relation to the investigation chapter topics. Stage 3 will consist of
completing draft write ups for each chapter and then finishing off with the final structured

 Stage 1 - October 19 to January 17

 Stage 2 - January 18 to February 28

 Stage 3 - March 1 to April 25

Stages are likely to overlap if I find that certain tasks take longer than expected to
complete such as gathering my primary research data.

Legal, ethical, professional, social issues

Along with the legitimacy of articles and data that I will gather, another important
consideration would be the nature of how I collect my primary research. My approach
should be fair and there should be no external influences that would affect the opinions
of people involved in my investigation.


Signature: Date:


Project supervisor:

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 66

Appendix B – Ethical examination checklist

PJE30 and PJS30


Ethical Examination

Undergraduate Final Year Projects

School of Computing
Faculty of Technology

Ethics Information: 12-point Checklist

1. Will the human subjects be exposed to any risks greater than Yes No
those encountered in their normal lifestyle?
For example: could the study induce psychological stress or anxiety; is more than
mild discomfort or pain likely to result from the study; will the study involve
prolonged or repetitive activities?

Investigators have a responsibility to protect human subjects from physical and

mental harm during the investigation. The risk of harm must be deemed to be no
greater than in their normal lifestyles.


Research will only involve asking subjects certain questions related to

the topic area in which they already have an interested in.

2. Will the human subjects be exposed to any non-standard Yes No

hardware or non-validated instruments?
Human subjects should not be exposed to any risks associated with the use of non-
standard equipment: anything other than pen-and-paper, or typical interactions
with desktop, laptop PC’s, tablet PC’s, PDA’s or mobile phones are considered
non-standard (for example, using a VR room) nor should they be subjected to non-
validated instruments e.g. unscrutinised questionnaires.


Internet accessible devices (desktop computers, laptop etc) could be

used by the subjects to complete the survey questions.

3. Will the human subjects voluntarily give consent? Yes No

If the results of an evaluation (for example) are likely to be used beyond the term X
of the project (for example, software is to be deployed or data is to be published),
then signed consent is necessary. A separate consent form should be signed by

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 67

each human subject. Return of a consent email can constitute written consent if
this has been made clear to the human subject.

Otherwise verbal consent is sufficient and should be explicitly requested in the

introductory script ( Information Sheet).


Subjects will be offered the option of remaining either anonymous or

by a specified name when referencing their views.

4. Will any financial, or other, inducements (other than reasonable Yes No

expenses and compensation for time) be offered to human
subjects? X

The payment of human subjects must not be used to coerce them against their
better judgement, or to induce them to risk harm beyond that which they risk
without payment in their normal lifestyle.


No incentives or money will be offered to the subjects. They are free to

choose whether they want to complete the survey or not.

5. Does the study involve human subjects who are unable to give Yes No
informed consent (for example: children under 18, people with X
learning disabilities, unconscious patients).

Parental consent is required for human subjects under the age of 18. Additional
consent is required for human subjects with impairments, and people assessed to
be lacking in mental capacity. If consent is gained from a person other than the
human subject themselves e.g. a parent, then written consent must be obtained.


This is difficult to know because the subjects are only in contact over
the internet, and not in person. Subjects will be asked for consent and
will remain anonymous.

6. Are you in a position of authority or influence over any of your Yes No

human subjects?
A person in a position of authority or influence over any human subject must not
be allowed to pressurize them to take part in, or remain in, any study.


Subjects will already have an interest in the topic area seeing as they
are already signed up on a dedicated internet forum. It is unlikely that
I will have influence as they are expected to have their own personal
views around the topic area.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 68

7. Are the human subjects being provided with sufficient details of Yes No
the study at an appropriate level of understanding?
All human subjects should be able to understand the information provided in any
documentation and/or verbal information they receive about the experiment or
study. They have the right to withdraw at any time during the investigation, and
they must be able to contact the investigator after the investigation. They should be
given the details of both student and supervisor as part of the debriefing. This
information should be in the introductory script (Information Sheet).


The purpose of the survey will be available to read before the subjects
choose whether to take the survey or not.

8. After the study, will human subjects be provided with feedback Yes No
about their involvement and be able to ask any questions they
may have about this involvement? X

If the human subjects request further information, the investigator must provide
the human subjects with sufficient details to enable them to understand the nature
of the investigation and their part in it.


At the end of the survey, the subjects will have the option to request
feedback if they wish so.

9. Will the human subjects be informed of the true aims and Yes No
objectives of the study?
Withholding information or misleading human subjects is unacceptable if human
subjects are likely to object or show unease when debriefed. It must be clear to
human subjects if information is being withheld in order to elicit a true response.
This should precede any analysis of the data.


The subjects will be informed of the reasons behind the project and
why research will be useful as part of the investigation.

10. Will the data collected from the human subjects be made Yes No
available to others (where appropriate and only in relation to
this research study), and be stored, in an anonymous form?

All human subject data (hard-copy and soft-copy) should both be stored securely
and, if appropriate made available, in an anonymous form. Making human subject
data available to a third party may be relevant where a student is taking part in a
wider research project eg. for a member of the University staff, in which case
anonymity of human subject data must be preserved.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 69


An internet link to download the report will be posted on forum

threads. Subjects will remain anonymous unless instructed otherwise

11. Will the study involve NHS patients, staff, or premises? Yes No

If yes, then an application must be made to the appropriate external NHS Local X
Research Ethics Committee (LREC). For projects other than postgraduate
research studies, the length of time for gaining external approval may not fit into a
project timescale.


There will be no relation with the NHS at any stage of the study.

12. Will the study involve the investigator and/or any human Yes No
subject, in activities that could be considered contentious,
morally unacceptable, or illegal? X

If yes, then further approval must be sought. For example: a project involving the
study of pornography on the web will fall into this category. It is possible that the
project may not be allowed to proceed.


The study will not involve any illegal or ethically unaccepted practices.
The data gathered will only represent the views of the individual and
not be tied to any outside organisations.

Please attach the following:

• Any Information Sheet(s) or introductory script(s) that the investigator has

created for the benefit of the human subjects in the study. (See for examples of Information Sheets that set out
details of a research study for human subjects).

• Any documentation that the investigator has created to gather informed consent
from the human subjects. This may be an Informed Consent Form, or a form of
wording used to get verbal consent. (See for an example of an Informed Consent
Form for research study with human subjects).

(see next page for introductory scripts used in research)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 70

Introductory script (private messaged to forum admins):

Hello Admin of [forum name],

I'm currently a final year student at the University of Portsmouth and I am undertaking
research for my dissertation. My topic is based around the One Laptop per Child project
and I have identified [forum name] as being a suitable location for carrying out some
primary research. This would be in the form of a short questionnaire.

I would very grateful if you would allow me to post my questionnaire up on your forum.
To increase the response rate, I was thinking of having the questionnaire posted
temporarily as a sticky thread or by sending a private message to active forum members to
link them to the thread.

I look forward to hearing your response. I could send you the questionnaire (via email) if
you would like to look through it first before making a decision.

Mikul Patel (Business information Technology at University of Portsmouth)

Introductory script (posted in new a thread after consented by admin):

Hello members of [forum name],

I'm currently a final year student at the University of Portsmouth and I am undertaking
research for my dissertation. My research is investigating how business model used by
One Laptop per Child (OLPC) has affected its success. I would also like to get some brief
views from actual users of the XO laptop or from people with an interest in the project.

It would be much appreciated if you could spare a few minutes of your time to complete
my questionnaire. Including your username would be very helpful for the purposes of easy
referencing. Alternatively, you can just put your name as anon if you don’t want your
username associated with the results. All participants will be thanked and acknowledged
in my final dissertation report.

Once the report is finished, all electronic copies of completed questionnaires will be
deleted for data protection reasons.

Mikul Patel (Business information Technology at University of Portsmouth)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 71

By signing this form, I AGREE to abide by the decisions made in the above points.
If at any time during my project, my answers would change from a white box to a
grey box, then I MUST seek re-approval for my project. I understand that if I do not
do so, then it is possible that I may FAIL the project component of my course.

Student name: …….………………………………… Jupiter number: ……………….

Student signature: ………………………………….. Date ……………………….…..

Supervisor signature: ………………………………. Date …………………………..

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 72

Appendix C – US Tax-Exempt Codes

501(c)(1) — Corporations Organized Under Act of Congress (including Federal Credit


501(c)(2) — Title Holding Corporation for Exempt Organization.

501(c)(3) — Religious, Educational, Charitable, Scientific, Literary, Testing for Public

Safety, to Foster National or International Amateur Sports Competition, or Prevention of
Cruelty to Children or Animals Organizations.

501(c)(4) — Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of


501(c)(5) — Labor, Agricultural, and Horticultural Organizations.

501(c)(6) — Business Leagues, Chambers of Commerce, Real Estate Boards, etc.

501(c)(7) — Social and Recreational Clubs.

501(c)(8) — Fraternal Beneficiary Societies and Associations.

501(c)(9) — Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Associations.

501(c)(10) — Domestic Fraternal Societies and Associations.

501(c)(11) — Teachers' Retirement Fund Associations.

501(c)(12) — Benevolent Life Insurance Associations, Mutual Ditch or Irrigation

Companies, Mutual or Cooperative Telephone Companies, etc.

501(c)(13) — Cemetery Companies.

501(c)(14) — State-Chartered Credit Unions, Mutual Reserve Funds.

501(c)(15) — Mutual Insurance Companies or Associations.

501(c)(16) — Cooperative Organizations to Finance Crop Operations.

501(c)(17) — Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Trusts.

501(c)(18) — Employee Funded Pension Trust (created before June 25, 1959).

501(c)(19) — Post or Organization of Past or Present Members of Armed Forces.

501(c)(21) — Black lung Benefit Trusts.

501(c)(22) — Withdrawal Liability Payment Fund.

501(c)(23) — Veterans Organization (created before 1880).

501(c)(25) — Title Holding Corporations or Trusts with Multiple Parents.

501(c)(26) — State-Sponsored Organization Providing Health Coverage for High-Risk


Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury (2008, pp. 65-66)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 73

Appendix D - OLPC Worldwide Programs

Deployment Country XO’s delivered, shipped or ordered

OLPC Afghanistan 5,000

OLPC Australia 1,500

OLPC Birmingham 14,000

OLPC Brazil 2,600

OLPC Cambodia 1,000

OLPC Chiapas 40

OLPC China 1,000

OLPC Colombia 4,000

OLPC Ethiopia 5,900

OLPC France 100

OLPC Friends 80

OLPC G1G1 78,500

OLPC G1G1 2008 6,500

OLPC Ghana 1,100

OLPC Guatemala 3,000

OLPC Haiti 13,700

OLPC India 750

OLPC Iraq 1,150

OLPC Italy 600

OLPC Lebanon 450

OLPC Mali 30

OLPC Mexico 50,000

OLPC Misc 3,500

OLPC Mongolia 10,100

OLPC Mozambique 200

OLPC Nepal 2,500

OLPC Nicaragua 5,000

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 74

OLPC Nigeria 6,000

OLPC Nigeria (Jimeta) 100

OLPC Niue 500

OLPC Oceania 4,500

OLPC Palestinian territories 1,000

OLPC Papua New Guinea 100

OLPC Paraguay 4,000

OLPC Peru 290,000

OLPC Rwanda 120,000

OLPC Small groups 13,500

OLPC South Africa 650

OLPC Sri Lanka 1,350

OLPC Thailand 5505

OLPC UK/Pilots/London2009 50

OLPC Uruguay 420,000

OLPCorps 2009 3,000

OLPC Pakistan/Rawalpindi 27

Source: OLPC Deployment Data (2009)

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 75

Appendix E – Questionnaire Sample

Username (enter as 'anon' if you want your views to be anonymous):

Select your gender:



1. Which of the following applies to you:

I own an XO laptop (move onto question 2)

I don't own an XO laptop but I have used one before (skip to question 4)

None of the above (skip to question 5)

2. How did you get your XO laptop?

Through the Give 1 Get 1 program

Given as a donation

Through an auction site


3. For what purpose do you use your XO laptop?

As an educational aid

As a testing machine

Novelty item


4. How would you rate your experience of using the XO laptop?

Not satisfied


Very good


Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 76

4 (b). Briefly state why you think this:

5. What year did you become aware of the OLPC initiative:







6. How would you rate the level of media coverage that OLPC has received?
No media coverage

Little media coverage

Moderate media coverage

A lot of media coverage

7. How would you rank the following media as being key to advertising the OLPC




Public displays



White papers

Word of mouth

8. How would you rate the success of the XO laptop since its release in 2007
Not successful

Partially successful

Very successful

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 77

8 (b). Briefly state why you think this:

9. Could the XO laptop compete commercially against current netbooks on the market?



9 (b). Briefly state why you think this:

10. What should be considered as most important to supporting the OLPC initiative:
The business goals and objectives

The technical specifications of the XO laptop

Both have equal importance

11. Do you agree with the idea that OLPC should act more like a for-profit business in
order to boost sales/success?



11 (b). Briefly state why you think this:

12. (From a business perspective) If you had to change anything about the OLPC initiative,
what would it be and how would it change the organisation’s performance:

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 78

Appendix F – Qualitative Data Responses

Q4. (a) How would you rate your experience of using the XO laptop?
(b) Briefly state why you think this:

Code Value
I like it very much, it is small, convenience, it has a lot of good programs like Etoys,
Scratch and TurtleArt. Today I installed OpenOffice on it.
54858988 Good hardware marred by manufacturing defect, unfinished software, very slow
54857541 Using Teapot's Ubuntu, the XO is a fairly useful machine.
The OLPC is heavily compromised towards younger users, and until very recently the
OLPC project didn't do a good job of merging their kernel changes into the standard
54869902 linux kernel sources. So the keyboard kind of sucks, and it's hard to get anything but
Sugar running on it. Also, unfortunately the OLPC uses an x86 CPU instead of a more
power-efficient ARM CPU, so you wind up getting really poor performance per watt.
In a lot of respects, this is a great little computer. Rugged, small, great battery life, and
just generally fun.
55133052 Rugged, reliable, and simple. Fulfills my needs without overkill.
Piqued my interest in Linux, so I'm enjoying this laptop more than any other computer
I've owned.
1. it is difficult and inconsistent accessing wifi signals that are no problem for other
laptops to access. i mainly use my xo to go online and so it is useless when it can't
connect to a hotspot to which everyone else can connect. 2. the operating system:
55911245 sugar v8.2 is still difficult to use, sugar-on-a-stick doesn't work on the xo, and i have
not had success running another linux distro. 3. as an ebook reader the xo is nice but it
doesn't save my place in the book and i can't load a file directly into write, i have to
open it with browser first and that is annoying.
I enjoyed my xo for the price. I learned a lot about programming and technology. Now
that netbooks running familar operating systems are the same price or cheaper than the
XO, I don't know if XOs are practical anymore in the education environment in the
United States. My XO is slow compared to even my smart phone now.
xo accompanies me everywhere (and makes friends wherever I go), is not only versatile
but also very durable, unlike other laptops.) Having the ability to install programs and to
utilize commands in Terminal is a great feature. I would like to continue learning
Fedora's Linux and would welcome a Fedora group (rather than switching to Ubuntu). I
plan to carry my own version of an "xo business card" to hand out whenever I'm xo-ing
at cafes, etc.
I think it is a perfect machine for kids to focus on important computing lessons w/o the
"noise" that you get with regular adult computers (mainly the internet surfing.)
56579512 works just as i had hoped it would..small internet tablet...
Even without an installation of Ubuntu, I found the XO perfect to use while reading in
bed or for traveling.
56582399 For the task it was designed to do, the machine performs fairly well.
Sugar is slow, but not odious. Sufficient software is available to do most typical work,
especially with a remote server as my software development box. Significant exceptions
56581491 include e-mail (using Sylpheed is slightly clunky), Office documents (until OOo4Kids
releases and shrinks down), accessing Windows shared folders, and accessing external
hard drives.
56583337 trackpad impossible; upgrading os is a multistage process i don't have time/interest in
I am satisfied in what it does because I have adjusted my expectations to meet the
capabilities of the XO. I used it for 2 months as my main computer, when I was
interning with OLPC in Mongolia. It got the job done for what I needed to do and I
learned a lot about Linux in the process, which has opened new doors for me.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 79

Code Value
My Daughter loves hers and I think the educational activities in Sugar are great and will
grow with her. I run Intrepid's Ubuntu
( on an SD card as an "adult"
and professional OS on My XO when I travel. I use it for web-browsing, email, file
editing, mathematical programing, video-watching, music and LaTeX typesetting. My
56599264 OLPC is certainly an eye-catcher and people talk to me about it wherever I am. This
gives me a great opportunity to talk about the technological advances made by OLPC to
produce this machine and also the goals of the OLPC project. Why did I not rate this as
"excellent": I think they should have kept G1G1 going and I think that significant
developed world deployments would advance the developing world goals of the OLPC. I
also would like to be able to get a XO v1.5.
56605868 Performance is too slow. Not reliable. Doesn't function well. Too fragile.
I am an adult, and I was not able to use it for my work. However I could tell that it
56607485 could be very suitable for children, especially those interested in programming. This is -
exactly- what I wish I had when I was 11 years old.
Technical problems, i.e. touchpad not working as it should. Most of the software
designed for classroom usage, but I know noone else having an XO. Sugar should work
on ordinary PCs and netbooks now, but I haven't tried it. I think it would have been an
advantage if all the "activities" would have been made available cross-platform. It
seems like my regular Ubuntu laptop with the Ubuntu software can be more useful as an
educational tool.
56631301 In its original state, it is not a machine suitable for every day work (surfing, writing etc.)
56634423 validated the hardware design, (actually it spawned the netbook revolution).
Because my use of the xo is secondary to its primary educational mission in developing
56640332 I am testing activities and daily-use details for projects in developing countries.
56650321 It's light, does not require much energy, it's got a dual screen...
56658633 -Undone OS -Lack of Flash support -Weak real world ready softwares
Since I use it as a toy, and because the system is so easy to restore, I experiment with
56664641 other OSes. I also use it as my internet appliance when taking my other laptop on a trip
is inconvenient.
56679611 does what i need it to do, browse websites, use if for skype
definitely not designed for an adult, but kids have no problem using it -- mesh was very
helpful. activities worked well. I have tweaked my own to use as a netbook when
traveling. No problems loading linux apps and movies onto an SD card and running from
56708402 It's an excellent machine for its purpose but not without flaws.
56761124 Does what I need it to. Took on trip to a devloping nation for blogging... worked great.
Excellent hardware and software design, with some exceptions. Design not fully
56763757 implemented. Examples: Mesh network still has major problems; side panels of
touchpad not functional; Journal not finished; Bitfrost security abandoned.
56769362 It is very appropriate technology for developing country children
56770890 I'm still getting used to the performance of the XO with Sugar, which I find quite poor.
The collaborative aspect is very strong. Durable and takes a lot of punishment. Visible
56778761 screen in daylight is a plus. Able to be repaired easily by capable students/people. Easy
to re-image. Mesh networking. 12V power
It is well-built, the battery life is good, the screen is excellent, Wi-Fi reception is
I generally bought the machine as a way to read ebooks and perform a few simple
clerical and Internet tasks and it has served it's purpose.
Customisation is non-intuitive for non-linux users. Laptop is underpowered for even its
"native" applications.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 80

Code Value
From the beginning the software wasn't that good. Now it's quite good but there is still
some things that bother me. Mainly in the bad integration of "normal" Linuxapps.
The small form factor and rugged design make it the perfect laptop for taking with me
56849838 on service calls and while traveling. The innovative technologies make it fun to tinker
with in my spare time.
The XO is a really good machine, but completely dedicated to child through the Sugar
Interface. I'm using my XO for demonstrations of Sugar and also as a real computer for
me. It's sometimes difficult to do daily work with it : Sugar is so different from what we
are used to work with.
It has proven to be rugged and energy efficient when powered by a solar panal for
months in a marine environment even with many days offshore.
56893081 The system is too slow for an every day internet usage.
56949216 It is tough and does basic computing activities.
Initially (12/2007) described as more finished and feature-rich than as delivered.
Developer documentation is VERY POOR -- I've been two years writing ONE activity.
I thought that it would be useful for children in both the 3rd world and the US for
56967703 homeschooling. It seemed too techy and the social side was missing. I could not find a
lesson plan suggesting how to use it for certain ages.
Well, I lost ability to use the laptop at one point because it didn't let me reconfigure the
wireless connection so I had to re-flash it; I also expected to use it to learn music and it
proved to be not suitable for something like Audacity; totem works fine though; one of
my kids briefly used the Speak activity, but other than that I ended up using the
machine to browse the web; also, the keyboard is really not interesting to use for a
good typist
Lightweight. Can install custom software. Low power consumption. Readable screen in
daylight. Longer WiFi range
The software originally was unusable, and now is barely usable. The underlying
paradigm is poor: having every single time you open the Terminal app logged in the
Journal, while at the same time making it practically impossible to save and organize
work in some sort of logical file structure (which IS there already; after all, it's Linux-
based) is just inexcusable. Certain parts of the hardware are great (screen, for
instance); certain other parts are poor (non-standard charging plug is just one of many
examples.) To release this into the developing world, the software should have been
ROCK SOLID; instead it was, and remains, a mess. Quite a pity, really. Agendas are no
substitute for quality, and OLPC seemed to be far more motivated by deluded agendas
than by any fundamental commitment to quality.
56671265 It is good for testing stuff and demos, but not powerful enough to regularly work on.
Sunlite-readable screen, good battery life, Ubuntu / Open Office alternate for my
business work, VERY rugged and small.
57324557 reflective screen rugged construction low price
Slow, immature OS, lack of updates, lack of working OLPC server software. Children do
not have the patience of adults, and I haven't used a computer that takes this long to
launch programs since the elder days before Apple launched the Apple II. Did I say how
slow it is?
57746128 Having updated the software, it is a useful laptop.
57769915 Good as ebook reader. mediocre web sufing
Battery life (6hrs-ish) isn't as long as i hoped, and the cpu isn't as fast as i'd like (has
trouble playing higher resolution videos).
Very functional, very simple. And at the time it didn't allow Microsoft products anywhere
near it, which was nice.
I got an XO to actually use it myself. My needs were minimal, use it to access the
61654536 Internet, mostly to browse/read Web pages, write via applications like Google docs, and
listen to music via applications like Pandora.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 81

Q8. (a) How would you rate the success of the XO laptop since its release in 2007?
(b) Briefly state why you think this:

Code Value
54835724 A few countries like to invest in something new, they prefer old things well known.
In spite of OLPC's top management's total ineptitude, the computer has managed to
I think the OLPC XO, despite some problems, does a pretty good job at what it was
intended to do. Despite my complaints as an end-user who is not in their target
audience, my impression is that when these laptops wind up in the hands of kids, good
things happen.
The XO could have done MUCH better if the original G1G1 had been executed cleanly,
and if they had not alienated their eager Linux fans by entertaining Microsoft.
Deployment was not well organized. Product was not ready for first release. Once in
user's hands, though, the XO generally fulfilled its mission.
55255962 The project was effectively abandoned due to internecine warfare.
Not as much market penetration as hoped, but the hardware is awesome. HW version
1.5 (more speed) is a bit late to market.
olpc single-handedly created the netbook market, and the xo is still technically superior
other netbooks based on its display, rugged design, and 3 processors. i have not been
following xo deployments oversees so i can't comment on international success or
It was a success for what it did at the time. It is a success for international computing,
which is what is was designed for and revolutionized netbooks.
'Tho not completely qualified to answer this, I'd say XO needs a more successful G1G1
program. Call it the XO Computer Peace Corps and get Pres. Obama involved.
For the kids around the world, they are lucky to get to learn on the XO... too bad it was
56577531 not made more available to US kids who severly lack math and science skills with the
XO could have improved.
There has not been as much advancement as promised (or it's been VERY slow going)
56578799 or integration into classrooms and we never hear about the laptops that have been
deployed through the G1G1 campaign.
Despite not achieving the 7M+ stated by NN, 1.5M served in 3 years is more than
Technically, it's a near success, as mentioned above. Commercially, it created the
56581491 netbook market. Unfortunately, it has failed by trying to restrict itself to academia,
especially in locations where there are more pressing issues than Internet access.
56583337 sugar / olpc breakup was a distraction
It hasn't caught on per say, but there have been more than 1 million XOs deployed
around the world, and it helped to start the netbook category of laptops.
-They have not deployed as many as they could have. -Flirting with Microsoft and
alienating Open Source advocates was a mistake -Producing an Windows XO is a
problem because this will produce more good little developing world cookie-cutter
workers, rather than innovating, educated transformative humans.
56605868 They have sold a lot of XOs, but not nearly as much as they sought to.
--pros-- 1) I was impressed by the early machine I played with. I think it could be good
to have in schools. There is a lot of potential still left in the OLPC concept. 2) I think that
56607485 OLPC has successfully introduced some innovative constructivist teaching methods by
including the "Sugar" software which runs on the XO. --cons-- 3) The price is still too
high. 4) The software/hardware is still a work in progress.
The program is still alive, that's a success in itself ... but there is clearly a lack of
outreach, penetration and user satisfaction.
56621037 the hardware is great, the software is not great

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 82

Code Value
They should have opened this project to commercial customers NOT only in the G1G1-
Educators haven't hit their stride with Sugar yet. An Negroponte hasn't been the
strongest leader of the project, in fact he has been inconsistant in his message.
Seems to have made some progress in improving educational opportunities, but well
short of goals.
Good platform for our projects in developing countries, but electricity is still a
challenging problem in remote areas.
It's technically great, but it has not been deployed enough. And selling to Microsoft is
definitely a very bad idea.
1 million units in distribution is something you can't ignore. However, unclear direction
56658633 of the organization and questionable hardware upgrade announcement hinders it from
being successful entity.
It never achieved its stated goals. However, much was learned from the effort and it
sparked competition among for-profit companies (think netbook computers).
It's been deployed to a fair number of kids around the world, spurred the netbook
56679611 industry. It always surprises me when people know what it is, so some of the media
campaign must be working!
I understand OLPC's desire *not* to be a laptop company -- but retail sales (thru an
56681087 offshoot or 3rd party) would have increased incomming $ and funded improvments in
hardware faster. And increased public knowledge of the project.
56708402 a million kids can learn better now who would not have had that chance otherwise
56761124 Not sure they got the number of initiatives implemented as they intended.
More than a million XOs in use, but no plan for village electricity or Internet, terrible
marketing, other planning deficiencies.
56769362 Predatroy competition and overly bureaucratic organisations
They set overly ambitions goals, but I think the targets they've met are fantastic and a
great step forward.
It is aimed at children and uses an intuitive interface. The ability to share activities
56778761 encourages collaboration and group work. Its deployment being subsidised by sponsors,
reduces costs to schools.
There are around a million of them distributed worldwide and I keep track of various
programs for them in various countries.
It put netbooks "on the map" and got many companies to create a revolution in
56792352 portable, cheap computer hardware and led to some LCD innovations and a greater
consciousness for increased battery life and a smaller environmental impact
It isnt a $100 laptop, but reports suggest it is (or can be, given the right support and
enviroment)successful at educational goals.
It still has to few educational programs, and the integration with "normal" Linuxapps is
56845487 an untapped resource. But all in all it's a great book reader and it's been deployed by
oven 1 million kids.
There are hundreds of thousands of XO's in the hands of children in developing nations.
Even though the XO is not the worlds most powerful PC neither were the early 8 bit
56849838 machines I learned on and have very fond memories of. I can easily see a day 20+
years from now when a new generation of programmers and techies look back fondly on
the XO's that gave them their start.
56855905 to many reasons to write here.... mostly because they weren't willing to sell....
I think that the OLPC foundation should make easier the way to obtain XO laptops. This
could enlarge the community and help little projects.
56893081 - Poor distribution network - Lack of software support
56949216 1 million have been distributed. Started netbook craze.
56965842 Rather than meet a target, OLPC re-defines it.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 83

Code Value
It was all hype. Not all. It was a good design and some good techie types. There was a
56967703 hole where there should have been lesson plan ideas. At least I could not find lesson
Up where I live (Québec, Canada), hardly anybody has heard of the XO. I know that
some deployments/programs were and are still apparently successful (Uruguay, Nepal),
but that's because I drop by once in a while. Were it just for the mass
media in my province, I would no close to zilch about the XO.
XO-1 is relatively easy to do. Infrastructure to support it for its intended use (education)
57129714 is more difficult. Curriculum and educational environment is most difficult to do.
Exponentially so.
Continual deployment difficulties reported worldwide. Also, the education paradigm
underlying OLPC is flawed - sacrificing so much functionality by having everything run in
Python emulation just so a minuscule number of students can re-write programs was an
astonishingly poor decision.
56671265 Significant negative publicity.
57198266 Ignored domestic US market.
57298125 Its marketing job wasn't done as well as it could have been.
57324557 I have no knowledge on questions 7 & 8
it obtained a broader group of developers and target community of testers, as well as
securing donations
The pricepoint has not been reached, major OS and hardware goals have not been met
57642571 (hand crank, solar cells, disbanding of the OS team). The project expected to count on
G1G1 sales in developed countries to fund.
Many XOs used by kids around the world. The XO laptop help move the netbook market
57746128 worldwide, which lowered costs and made other computers more likely to be used in
educational settings.
57769915 interesting h/w, but what about the education?
57853810 I know many people who would like one, but can't buy one.
58088526 sales were much smaller that predicted.
Poor implementation. Insufficient effort has been put into curricula and guides for
people who know nothing about computers--the target group of the OLPC project.
The XO has an interface that is very difficult to use. Apparently they wanted to create an
interface that was "simple" but instead created something that is extremely difficult to
figure out and to use. For example: There is no way to store a Wifi password. The idea
that the XO would only be used in rural areas where there was just 1 Wifi access point,
that was open, is ridiculous. Most people in developing countries live in cities and I can't
believe than an urban school would have an open Wifi access point.

Q9. (a) Could the XO laptop compete commercially against current netbooks on the
(b) Briefly state why you think this:

Code Value
They can't compete, they are addressed to different people. XO laptop is for children to
learn better, netbooks are for adults with other kind of software.
54858988 Too slow
54857541 As a "business", the OLPC is a disaster!!
54869902 It is just a little bit too under-powered, and because it runs Open Firmware rather than

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 84

Code Value
an EFI BIOS or a traditional BIOS, you can't boot anything on it out of the box, including
popular Linux distributions like Ubuntu. It would have been better, in my opinion, if they
had simply compromised fully in the direction of running Linux, and hit the higher point
on the performance curve that that would have allowed at the price they were targeting.
There are benefits and drawbacks when comparing the XO to other netbooks. I think if it
55019597 were always available (not just special G1G1 offers) and if there was good support
behind it (like HP, Dell, etc.) then it could compete.
55133052 Overpriced at $400. Hardware too limited for most users.
Although it started the netbook wave, they have overtaken as a general-purpose
I own both(2 XO Laptops and an Atom-based Asus Netbook). Most 2009 netbook buyers
will want more speed (over 1.5GHz) and longer battery life (over 5 hours).
the display is better than anything on the market. and it swivels. it has 3 processors,
very long battery life (although much shorter than the "days" originally advertised), and
55911245 a rugged design. i am not afraid to take my xo anywhere because if i drop it no damage
will be done and no one would want to steal it because it is weird. i think the xo 1.5
could compete against current netbooks, but the xo 1.0 is too slow.
The XO's hardware makes it so appropriate for children and for traveling -- in this way,
it's far superior to the fragile, tiny, netbooks. But because the operating system is alien
to most people and the fact that a netbook would be more likely to be compatible with
various peripherals I'd need while traveling, I might consider a netbook over an XO. I'm
56071275 currently trying to decide whether to ask my school for netbooks or XOs for my
students. XOs would last longer and be more sturdy, but would have less support. When
I'm traveling, I no longer take my laptop, just my XO. It's a relief not to haul my
fullsized laptop around. But I often borrow my husbands laptop because the XO is too
Yes, with qualification-- give it a keyboard like the old Radio Shack Model 100--easy for
adults as well as children.
56577531 If sold at the $200 with the 1.5 board.
I believe that it could. I have smaller hands and find the keyboard usable, but male
56578799 counterparts with larger hands do not. As an ecologically friendly travel machine with
kitsch factor, I believe that it is viable.
When my desktop computer died, I used the XO for three full weeks exclusively, until
56581491 the new machine (a netbook) arrived. Since then, I've alternated using each. Some
tweaks and additional features, and it would absolutely be ready for prime time.
56583337 1.5 is a mean machine!
It is too disruptive and doesn't have the features that normal users want and think they
56585524 need. If people were more willing to accept Linux as their primary operating system,
and willing to change their habits, then it could compete.
It is a bit slower than many netbooks and the 1GB SSD is not enough. But its price point
56599264 might be able to overcome this. Also, potentially a beefed up version (more like v1.5)
could be produced.
56605868 You can buy $100 netbooks that are as good as the $200 XO.
Do you mean for adults or kids? OLPC might be able to succeed selling their product to
individual schools or parents. The XO is too limited to be useful to many adults.
It's more robust and children friendly than any of the competitors, and it spends less
power ... but one of the biggest reasons why I bought it is actually the screen, being
able to use it in sunshine and without wasting battery on the backlight is just awesome.
I'd really wish to have an ordinary laptop with same display technology. At the other
hand, the machine is quite a bit underspec'ed and there are technical problems with it
(i.e. the touchpad issue).
56621037 needs to be more user friendly to non tech users
56631301 Default-OS and overall machine performance can't compete with current netbooks.
56634423 Merely load an appropriate version of Linux and check it out. We use it as a portable

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 85

Code Value
unit on our boat. Lots of advantages, power being one of the key. (Sail boats only have
a small 12v budget). Its mesh network is way ahead of the market yet.
56639375 Not its intent; the others are crafted to a developed country market and the xo is not.
56640332 Software is a bit unstable.
Although it's not as powerful as current netbooks, it's great in some other things, the
dual screen for example. And in price it's unbeatable.
56658633 too underpowered.
56664641 Under-powered CPU and too little storage (RAM and SSD).
underpowered. can't play flash videos well, or at all (most people just want to watch
56679611 youtube videos) maybe, if it was $200 (which I guess is 'technically what I paid for one
in the G1G1 program)
Yes and no... still least expensive, so very competitive there (other netbook
manufacturers advertise units in the $200 range, but never produce in quantity and
56681087 upsell strongly to $400-500 units). But without matching increased speed and power
found in the upsold netbooks 1st world consumers won't be interested in purchasing.
But OLPC keeps stating that 1st world consumers aren't the target demographic.
I've been using the 1.5 version for a few weeks. It is now fast enough to compete. And
even the old XO has a lot going for it, including the software and the display. OTOH
there are rumors the display will be available in other laptops next year, and the
Classmate's touchscreen and VGA out make up for the display.
56761124 Too slow. Was cutting edge at the time and started the whole trend imho.
The $1 gross margin on the XO cannot support retail sales. Retail is not the target
market, which is group computing, where the XO excels.
It is not designed to compete. No other netboook is designed to do what the XO does. It
56769362 is the only netbook that can be reliably used in developing countries. All other netbooks
are designed for urban use
Performance wise it's just doesn't seem to match up (I don't know that much about
56770890 XO1.5 specs though). But it is a *different* kind of laptop, very cute and aimed at kids.
I think it has a fair chance using that angle.
It is hardy, durable, the screen is readable in sunlight. Runs on 12V, and has Linux
56778761 operating system.However, it must have the ability to print and an easier way to store
and retrieve files. The XO 1.5 will probably solve this.
The OLPC 1.5 with it's faster processor and more memory would be comparable to a lot
56776859 of netbooks available (and is better built than most of them and has a better screen and
tablet mode. There are no tablet convertable netbooks that I know of.)
Not with only a 433 MHz Processor and no dedicated 3d graphics chip. It also would
need a larger SSD and more ram to be competitive in the global marketplace
Lots of the current netbooks are crap. OLPC might need better operating
system/support, though.
It has great hardware, but it's not the kind of stuff that the general netbookowner
wants. In some aspects it is very competitive like the screen, roughness and battery life.
But it lacks in the ability to play youtube videos, average speed when surfing, rather
small storage space etc.
Too many people lack the knowledge to see the potential of an XO. Basically in their
minds if it doesn't run Windows and cant do Flash videos it's not a computer. The
problem isn't with the XO the problem is with the computer as appliance world that
Microsoft created.
56855905 software isn't stable/complete enough
Not for the moment, but I think the XO 1.5 could compete in educational and geek
Technology advances too fast for the OLPC platform to remain competitive. The only
56893081 other way to overcome this would have been to put more energy to the OS/software
development to compensate for an aging hardware.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 86

Code Value
56949216 processor too slow, memory to small. Won't run flash
Could but won't because they don't know how to do a commercial product -- the G1G1
56965842 order fulfilment was a disaster and the "attitude problem" with respect to proprietary
formats has crippled the XO since day one.
There are some very good assets to the XO : screen (backlit, swappable, etc.),
ruggedness, wireless hub, etc but some serious drawbacks most important of which is
57013417 running a special purpose OS (Sugar) and the keyboard that won't allow people to type
normally. That said, if educational tool were so great that it made Sugar a must, then
there is a niche for the XO. Not just agains COTS machines netbooks
57129714 Not fast enough. No hard drive. Does not run Windoze.
The software stability is poor - no one will be pleased by a laptop that takes so long to
boot and then freezes up so readily. The keyboard is grotesque - I find even small
children don't like it. And finally, the computer would have to ditch Sugar and have a
better OS to even have a prayer of commercial success.
Everywhere I take it, the kids want to know where they can buy one like's
57198266 obviously kid friendly. All my nephews and nieces want there is a high demand.
My kids (8 and 11) demonstrate it to their friends.
57298125 It is just a little bit to much of a toy.
57324557 because the world is MS trained
57395650 it's just not built for our needs - HD video, mass storage, quick browsing
Too slow and limited when compared to even the smallest netbook running Linux. With
57642571 the NetBook remix of ubuntu a stable, tested, operating system has been released that
is low/no cost to the manufacturers.
The XO has been a force in the netbook marketplace, especially because the XO is
57746128 priced closer to its manufacturing cost. Regarding question 10. OLPC, I think, has
operational goals not business goals and objectives.
todays netbooks have evolved beyond the xo-1 larger screens, more storage better
networking, faster processors.
It's better than most netbooks i've seen -- more rugged, better battery, better software,
better screen.
58088526 too slow.
The screen, in particular, would probably get it some buys. That aside, the easy
functionality of the operating system trumps that of the Acer netbook (at least, it did as
59190192 of a year ago, when my wife got one). The camera is a nice perk. That said, the fact
that Acer just cut one of their netbooks down to $200 might hurt. The ideal time to do it
The interface is unusable. I've handed my XO to almost all of friends, many of whom are
programmers in various languages. The reaction is always the same. They are excited to
look at it. Within a couple minutes they are cursing and within 10 minutes they hand it
back to me happy to never look at one again.

Q11. (a) Do you agree with the idea that OLPC should act more like a for-profit
business in order to boost sales/success?
(b) Briefly state why you think this:

Code Value
For-profit business are the same like the others that don't think to improve education of
poor children, on the contrary they think about money.
54858988 They can't compete, and they would lose what is left of their volunteer goodwill.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 87

Code Value
OLPC almost totally ignores one of its greatest assets: the G1G1 community. With the
right incentives this group could grow exponentially.
People work on things that satisfy their needs. The number of people for whom a non-
54869902 profit-only OLPC satisfies their needs is much smaller than the number of people whose
needs would be satisfied by an OLPC that was available to anyone who wanted one.
I think the XO would gain a lot more traction if it were available in Best Buy, Wal-Mart,
55019597 etc. So far it's only been a special small group of focused fans that have bought and
supported XO's.
55133052 For-profit business model would encourage greater efficiency.
55255962 The for-profit model would not increase third-world penetration.
55251525 I'm undecided. Altruistic goals meet dog-eat-dog capitalism.
55911245 i don't know much about business.
I got into this not to buy a product but to support a movement. Whatever the XOs
failings are as a machine for me in a 1st world country are minor compared to what can
be accomplished with the xo worldwide. When I buy my netbook, I'll be buying yet
another electronic piece of equipment headed for the landfill in a few years. When I
bought my XO, I bought into an idea and that's powerful. Without the idea behind it, it's
simply a nice but underpowered and clunky laptop.
56132791 Money moves mountains!
56577531 a for-profit would better sustain itself... plus do better getting the word out.
I believe it's important to keep in mind that they are a company who is going to have to
56578799 try and sell some laptops in order to have the credibility and funding to make
So far, it hasn't succeeded well on those terms. Competing in the commercial sector
56581491 could give them the motivation to shake the bugs and missing features out of the
Sometimes, I think that OLPC has done it's job in some ways, and doesn't really need to
continue to push computers to developing nations. On the other hand, I saw XO's in the
hands of kids in Mongolia, and taught a lot of them myself, so I know that getting
computers into kids' hands is a worthy endeavor.
I think they should sell XOs in the developed world to subsidize deployment in the
56599264 developing world, build a larger user-base and generate new content. But they should
not be "for-profit" and nor should they act that way.
56605868 The machine should be available at a retail price to whomever wishes to buy it.
Again, I don't think there is an adult market for the XO (running sugar). If OLPC sells
XOs to parents and schools, it would have to support them.
This seems like a no-brainer to me - if the organization would have sold units for a
56617305 profit, there would have been benefits due to increased penetration, more user
contributed content, and more money for the organization.
56621037 OLPC can improve without turning to a for-profit mindset
56631301 See my remarks under (8).
56634423 It's an education project. The commercial monopoly would crush it.
56640332 A bit more tech support would go a long way.
56658633 not sure at this point.
Needs to build better supply chain and marketing efforts. The computer itself needs to
be beefed up to compete successfully against netbooks.
don't feel strongly about this, i think OLPC should do whatever it needs to do to stay
afloat (i.e. pay its staff and developers) no point in trying to make it go against superior
netbooks, better to keep carving out a niche as an educational device for kids in
developing countries.
Increased sales lead to greater awareness for project and help fund the project. Even at
$250-$300 the XO would be cheaper than most netbooks. And economies of scale would

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 88

Code Value
finally kick in and decrease the price of manufacturing the unit.
The XO owes a lot to the world-wide community of volunteers. If it acted like the other
short-sighted get-rich-fast companies we'd get another Windows Netbook. That said,
OLPC should find ways to make the machines available for purchase to anyone who
wants them.
56761124 Get more $$$ behind the goals.
OLPC should concentrate on its mission of creating the best possible educational
computer, and on cooperation with Sugar Labs on the best possible educational
56763757 software. A separate for-profit company should be started to pursue electricity, Internet,
microfinance, and electronic textbooks written on contract. Explanations at
The principle goal is to improve education in developing countries. That is not a profit
making exercise.
I think they're moving forward with their goals. I'd be concerned that acting like a for-
56770890 profit business makes them more likely to make decisions as to how they impact the
bottom line rather than how they impact education.
OLPC should remain non profit. However, a sister organisation could be set up with the
purpose of making the XO laptop available to anyone who wished to purchase it.
Selling them would boost recognition and revenue if it were done in the West, and there
are a lot of people who would buy an OLPC 1.5 or 1.75, including myself.
Innovations need funds, it's just that simple Intel and AMD couldn't continue to improve
56792352 there chips if thy didn't have a constant and good revenue stream, it should be these
innovation that drive the future
I think it would have been a good idea two years ago, when there still was a window of
56845487 opportunity. Nowadays I'm not that sure that there is anything to gain from being more
like a business.
The XO was never intended to be a commercial laptop. Moving in a direction that would
make it such would: 1. Steal resources and focus from the Goal of the project
(Education, opportunity) 2. A commercially viable XO would most certianly end up
56849838 looking like every other generic netbook. Most Likely running Windows. The modern
configuration of a comercially viable laptop is one the inhibits users learning about
programming, computers, how they work, and seeks to chain the user to a brand
through barriers and enforced ignorance. Not good for an education project.
They need to have feedback and thus they need to have many hands on the little green
56863484 Totally yes, but we don't forget the non-profit way and the first goals of OLPC.
Business success is relied on market measurements that would result in direct actions
56893081 for improvement. Also, a for-profit business would result in an increased man-power
that will necessarily improve software and hardware developments.
56949216 The idea is a good one, but simply selling is not the point.
I believe they are too late now. The commercial netbooks do more for the developed
world. OLPC would do better to stick to an "education machine" for developing
countries. But even to succeed there, OLPC needs to do more outreach to technically-
oriented volunteers.
I'm tempted to say no. To me, OLPC is to Asus what Wikipedia is to Britannica. It should
be a hub where technical development and refinement of educational applications that
run on that equipment are done. I still think OLPC should do business with governments
rather than Future Shop but at the same time a strong marketing team going around in
schools to show how those little green machines can let people share activities and
things like that would be very good.
While sales will drive down the price, the goal is to reform the educational process which
is more of a mission than a business. And a tough mission to boot.
The ivory-tower approach that OLPC took is just repugnant - instead of saying "let's help
the developing world by giving them a sturdy, cheap, and efficient laptop" they took the

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 89

Code Value
attitude of "the developing world is too dumb to figure out a computer, so we'll give
them one with software that treats them like infants, then make it REALLY SLOW so that
anyone with other than an abnormally-long attention span will get frustrated with it."
56671265 It should focus on serving children, and should keep open with minimal financial goals.
I think their focus is right, on providing technology rugged and simple enough to be in
57198266 the 3rd world. Pure profit would have them focus on the US rich kid market, and the 3rd
world would not be effectively addressed.
57298125 Because that is who they are competing with and where their money will come from.
57324557 The customers are not motivated by "what is cool".
57395650 they might gain a lot more credibility
They already did behave as a for-profit. Expecting G1G1 sales to fund the OLPC
initiative is behavior one would expect from a for profit organization.
I suppose OLPC could improve its operational strategy without taking on the burdens of
57746128 profit-reporting status. Merely changing to be a for profit business without a realignment
of its operational processes would be fraught with many downsides.
if it tries to be a h/w co. the people in Taiwan will eat them for breakfast. The education
mission is where it should focus.
It seems to me that the "grassroots" not-for-profit model was the source for most of the
57853810 innovation -- especially the use of linux and other open source stuff. I'm skeptical that
profit and openness can coexist :, but am not against trying.
Economics of scale. I already felt this way, but I should note that this question is almost
too leading for an objective study.
It's not the business model, it's the design. The developers tried to jam all this cutting
edge equipment into the XO and then expected the cost would be very cheap. It's not
going to happen. You can buy a laptop for about $300 and a netbook for even less. The
goal of a $100 laptop is probably going to happen for a netbook very soon. They need
low-cost equipment (not cutting edge) and an interface that is easy to use. Then people
will want to use it.

Q12. (From a business perspective) If you had to change anything about the OLPC
initiative, what would it be and how would it change the organisation’s

Code Value
I think this initiative it can't work for business perspective, education is different. We
think first on children and their wellbeing. ATTENTION!!! I had to answer the 10
question, but my answer is none of them. What should be considered as most important
to supporting the OLPC initiative? CHILDREN
54858988 See if you can recruit some business people to contribute to the day-to-day operations.
OLPC should look carefully at the Paul Newman Gourmet Foods model. They make an
EXCELLENT line of gourmet foods (and command a premium price)...and all of the
profits go to charity. OLPC should strive to have an avant garde piece of hardware at a
54857541 competitive price in the open commercial market, aggressively advertised, with superior
service and support. Profits would underwrite the charitable component of the
operation. It might be desirable to have more than one line of computers: a high-tech
commercial model vs. a low-tech student model.
54869902 Sell the laptops to anyone who wants one.
54875417 Provide a better quality/efficiency software
Change #1: Go back to your roots. I think the OLPC initiative made a MAJOR mistake
when they turned their back on one of their core principles, that is, to remain an open

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 90

Code Value
source project for both software and hardware. Once OLPC began to compromise and
work closely with Microsoft, it caused a major rift. This was the reason that Sugar Labs
became it's own entity. I think that OLPC should return to their roots, mend the broken
bridges, and press forward with 100% open source software and hardware.
55255962 Install competent management, both at the organizational and development levels.
The shipping issue for the original G1G1 was a pain. I'm not sure what specifically I'd
change, though.
Every XO user is a potential sales rep. and should be given clear methods of spreading
56132791 the word, e.g. "business cards" to hand out to the curious onlookers (and there are
Don't limit the US purchases to the little people... everyone who see's me pop out the
XO laptop for my kids are alway interested in it. I still believe it is a great computer
even though netbooks might have more capability... the XO's are perfect for kids and
that is my main purpose for owning.
The organization does not feel very organized. There is too much floundering on
Negroponte's part, or not enough data coming out about what advancements are being
56578799 made with realistic timetables. It's useless for people to get excited about things that
OLPC says they want to do because none of it seems to ever get done. I find that
realism and news would be good.
56582399 I'd retail the machines year-round. (which they *can* do as a NPO)
I know little about things from that perspective, but I would move to a for-profit and
sales model. Let people buy the machines: Use the increased demand to drive down
costs while using the profits to extend the reach of the educational ventures. Clinging to
the existing approach is merely socialist/globalist nonsense.
56583337 sell machines to anyone who wants them
I would go back in time and cut the expenditures in the beginning. It seemed to me like
they were being rather oblivious to cash loss in the early parts of 2008, when I started
56585524 getting involved. I do think they have done an excellent job considering the size of the
organization. It is rather remarkable they they were able to create such a computer and
get so many shipped with such a small workforce.
56599264 Sell to the developed world, possibly by continuing G1G1.
The machine should be available at a retail price to whomever wants to buy it. No bulk
purchase requirement (though bulk purchasers could of course get discounts.
1) Assuming that the goal of OLPC is to educate kids, then OLPC should put more
resources into developing Sugar, the software that runs on the XO. They should
promote it and distribute it. The hardware does not matter. Sugar is the future of OLPC,
56607485 not the XO. They should fund and support Sugar. I think they should make their money
by becoming a consulting firm. OLPC should be in the business of helping countries
wanting to deploy computers running the sugar software in schools, and acquire
internet connectivity. Again, these computers don't have to be XOs.
Most of my information about OLPC comes from, my opinions are
probably colored by that. Is it an educational project or is it a laptop project? It seems
like the current organization do have some problems focusing. It could have made
sense to split the organization - one group should deal with tech, one group should deal
with distribution, one group should deal with for-profit sales. From what I read on olpc
there is also a lack of communication between the grassroot and the HQ.
I would continue the buy 1 donate 1 aspect. I would highlight the upgrade options such
as Sugar on a Stick and SD card upgrades
- permanent G1G1-program - making new hardware-versions immediately available also
to commercial customers
Make them available marketwise to parents and educators in the US. Have FisherPrice
brand and sell them.
I'd have tried to maintain the coalition between hardware (OLPC proper) and software
(Sugar Labs), since I think both were critical to the xo program's effectiveness.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 91

Code Value
56640332 Tech support. Viable recharging and power model.
-Ship with Ubuntu and softwares that have real life applications. -Stick with existing
56658633 spec of OLPC for the current gen's software support. No need for 1.5 when none of the
software will take advantage of the full capacity of the hardware. -
Use right away for G1G1 program. Put a reliable supply chain in place to
quickly satisfy demand.
no opinion really... haven't needed much from OLPC since I got my XO...the user
56679611 community is great... i got what i expected. don't think if OLPC folded it would affect me
Non-profits usually start with a great vision, but the visionary isn't always the best
56681087 person to run a company. I admire NN very much, but feel OLPC needs a different CEO.
Or at least spinning off sales to a for-profit subsidiary.
Don't know. I'm not a businessman. The most interesting aspect of OLPC is neither the
business nor the hardware. It's the worldwide education community crystalizing around
it. *That* is what OLCP needs to nourish, but can't because nobody likes to pay for it.
Even this survey misses that point (it's missing from Q10 for example).
Much better communication with volunteers and with the public, including much more
willingness to work with developed countries. This would assist volunteers to find the
56763757 most effective contributions they could make, and prevent them burning out and
quitting. It would also make it possible to start a political movement to get XOs into US
schools, and thereby build support for aid to other countries for XO deployments.
I don't know. Be more open maybe. It's very open already, it just feels like sometime
we learn about important things a bit late/suddenly (e.g. XO2 discontinued, to be
"replaced" with XO1.5). I don't know enough about running a business to know what
kind of decision would help improve performance.
I would change the focus to all children throughout the world, not just the kids in
developing countries. By doing that, it reinforces the perception that the devices are
world class, not just suitable for third world countries. This would imply that there must
be a commercial arm which concentrates on delivery and support of the hardware and
services. It is a good product, has great potential and is changing the way teachers
deliver their lessons.
I would make them more widely available for purchase, possibly even in different colors.
The more people see them in stores the more they will want to know more about them
56776859 and the OLPC program itself. This would stimulate interest and generate additional
funding through sales and donations. The fact that the economy is turning around will
help even further.
Work with and not against the current hardware and software manufacturers, don't be
56792352 afraid to let some limited patented and non open-source software influence and be
implemented in the design.
IT would be worth having a retail arm of the movement, aim to sell XO-1s primarily at
56845975 the western market, but the point would be to raise funds/revenue for the overall OLPC
I would have stated clear goals in what sort of educational applications that were
needed. Now it seems like there are some teachers that don't know how to integrate the
laptop in their curriculum and at the same time those with the skill to make new
56845487 Activities seems more focused on making small games. I think they should have made a
clear survey among the teachers in the deployment countries and then set up goals in
the different subjects. So there would be a wiki page that would state what is expected
of a Geography activity for example.
Create more opportunities for people to get involves. Not everyone has the resources to
Donate a laptop or many laptops. They could give $20/mo to support the project or to
pay for staff that help set up new deployments Release more technical documentation to
56849838 the community so people can contribute to supporting the XO. Open source the Wireless
drivers, Create a OS builder to roll your own Linux for the XO. Such measures would go
a long way to remove fears of the XO-1 becoming an oprhan. Show more of the impact
that the program is having in developing nations. Get these images on TV. Get people

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 92

Code Value
excited about the Potential for education and opportunities in Technology jobs that
getting computers into the hands of children creates. Keep the focus on the
Opportunity/Potential that the program creates and off the XO. Openly discuss how
using Windows would Inhibit learning about computers, and programming. Create a way
for technically inclined people to get their hands on XO's. This would serve 2 purposes.
1) get XO's out into the public eye but in the hands of people that understand the
machines and appreciate them. 2) give skilled people a chance to hack/develop on the
XO. To learn about it first hand. To blog about it. There is a vibrant community of G1G1
XO developers/hackers out there already. the problem with the Previous G1G1 program
is that it let too much of the general public get XO's. Too many of these people did not
understand that the XO was a purpose built machine and thus were dissapointed when
it didn't have Windows, Couldn't run Flash or Skype, etc. This damaged the XO brand by
creating a meme that the XO-1 was under powered and "not a real computer". The
above meme has lead to the development of the XO-1.5 and above. OLPC MUST
address fears about the XO-1 deing orphaned or the credibility of the entire progam will
be damaged. What government is going to buy thousands of computers if they know
that they will be orpans with no support in just a few years. in my mind OLPC should
commit to a SINGLE hardware platform. Kids don't need the latest whiz bang
applications to learn about computers. They need computers to learn about computers.
And they need a computer that teachers know how to teach about. (hard to do if the
specs keep changing). Governments need to see that they are investing in the future..
not in a piece of disposable technology. OLPC must not abandon the XO-1
make it easier to buy small batches of machines make it easier to buy parts have a
good user manual involve the community more with respect to the software involve
teachers and other educators with the developments of software find money to support
full time workers, while maintaining transparent operation.
Little sales for little projects and developpers. I have lots of ideas, know lots of people
56863484 that are interested by the project and could use the XO with children, but we have no
way to obtain the computers.
56872790 Recapture the community atmosphere of an open-source effort
It would have been good to think of a hardware evolution strategy to have the
opportunity to improve the system performances and keep offering a relatively efficient
platform (faster CPU, more memory, storage, etc). That would keep people interested to
obtain the system and would allow to keep up with the software industry in general.
I don't believe OLPC *could* succeed as a business. The wrong people, the wong kind of
charter, the wrong focus and they've already missed the opportunity.
Don't just plan the technical and the hype. Look at how it will be used and provide some
basic assistance and suggestions to parents, educators, and students. I take exception
to you Question 10 and think you are missing the point. Success required 3 legs of a
56967703 stool, the sales/hype/business leg, the technical, and the education leg. The 3rd leg was
missing from the OLPC initiative, and it is still missing from your questionnaire. And I
resent being forced to answer Q10 when the correct answer is none of the above. Your
results for that question are invalid due to design flaw.
57013417 I'm more a technologist than a business person so I can't say really.
Continue the G1G1 program. Get more of them out there in the first world to affect
57129714 change in the educational process. The more there are, the more aware people will be of
OLPC and it's real mission.
Strip out all the social agenda and socialist group-think. Put performance, reliability, and
low cost at the top of the goals of the company. Retain those workers whose technical
skills allow them to come up with elegant technical solutions, and fire all those whose
primary contribution was in the direction of social agendas. Sell the computers to
anyone who wants them. See the world as it is, rather than trying to sell a product
based on an unworkable premise.
Better support for the open source software parts of it...keep working with
Allow for US domestic sales in some way. Market penetration is important, and drives
application development and availability. It also becomes easier for teachers/schools to

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 93

Code Value
pilot something, not having to do special purchase orders.
There a lot of smarter minds working on this situation I for one hope a difference is
made for some disadvantaged children their families and their cultures around the
world. I donated my XO to a project in Ghana so it ended up where it should, in the
hands of a kid...
I was a successful small business owner. My products were sought out by the buyers. I
did no advertising (except for a web page when the internet came along). I believe
OLPC is a real need and is recognized as such. I think of most businesses succeed by
training the customer to want something.
They need to ensure people understand who the target is - ie, governments that can
afford it, rather than a donated-machine model which is definitely unsustainable. And
the fact that the onus is on the governments to develop the education resources for the
57410782 distribution price
57550625 More individual sales or smaller quantity sales to introduce XO to smaller groups
A better business plan. More open about the business plan in order to get the public and
governments excited and set expectations.
OLPC should be able to take better advantage of the press that it receives to raise more
monies in order to distribute better educational support along with more laptops to kids.
In the developing world, I think more alliances with current NGOs would be useful for
57746128 OLPC in deploying more laptops effectively. In the developed world, more pilots and
demonstration projects using XOs could hopefully do some good and generate some
community support and monies for the rest of the world. Focused business decision
acting on the above ideas could held change OLPC's overall effectiveness.
57769915 focus less on producing h/w more integrating into educational systems
I would encourage more MIT-like people to join and play with the project. More
innovative designs/features/efficiency. The demand and distribution will follow naturally.
expand the user base by making it readily available to private individuals. this will help
with software development.
Negroponte should put his money where his mouth is. He talks about using the XO-3 as
a weapon against computer manufacturers to force them into putting out cheap data
tablets in the next few years. For this tactic to be successful, the computer must be
mass-produced and sold to the general public. Nothing but a loss of market share will
threaten those guys, and the tiny blips from the G1G1 events (if they're continued) are
unlikely to even show up on a major corporation's quarterly report.
I don't know anything about the OLPC organization. But based on using the XO I would
guess that it is made up of computer geeks who are not challenged by having to spend
a half hour trying to make something work. Yes, I use Windows, but so does most of the
planet. And when I pick up a Mac I can sort of figure out how to make it work. Creating
an interface that is completely different simply for the sake of being different makes no
sense and is not a sound business strategy. There are certain conventions people look
61654536 for, like being able to bookmark a website and then find that bookmark later (I never
found them after weeks of looking), being able to save a file and then find it again (I
have no idea where saved files went or how to find them) and being able to store
network/wifi connection information. This is not some holy grail they are searching for.
My Apple iPod is easier to configure and use than the XO and it has just 3 buttons on it!
I think the OLPC is actually doomed. They came out with a really bad product, did not
listen to consumer complaints, and now $100 laptops are on the horizon for the masses.

Mikul Patel BSc Business Information Technology 94