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Is OLPC the answer?

01 Feb 08

Is One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) the answer?  Stephen Dukker, Chairman and CEO of NComputing, and eMachines co-founder, certainly doesn’t think so.  Certainly, both NComputing and the OLPC initiative aim to bring computing power to larger numbers of children across the globe, but they approach the dilemma very differently.
On 5 September, 2007, the Wall Street Journal Online published an email debate between Dukker and Walter Bender, President of OLPC.  The debate created quite a stir on the WSJ message boards, and Dukker feels that the disagreements are no closer to being resolved.
OLPC is widely known as the $100 laptop company, although they have yet to be successful at manufacturing and supplying a $100 machine.  Acknowledging that children in the developing world lack the opportunity for computer-based education, the OLPC scheme is an ambitious one, aimed at providing these children with connected laptop computers purchased by the governments of the countries in which they live.
NComputing, on the other hand, looks to reach children in the developing world through computer labs that can harness the untapped power of today’s PCs.  With one mid-level PC, NComputing’s technology can give up to seven users a completely individual and rich computing experience.  Winner of the Wall Street Journal’s 2007 Technology Innovation Award in the category of Computing Systems, NComputing is well on its way to becoming a serious force to be reckoned with.
“NComputing represents a new direction on PC technology,” stated Dukker.  “It is the beginning of the end of the high-cost PC.”
Dukker also stated that the PC market has been saturated, and that vendors have been recycling the same 850 million users for some time.  Research has shown that another 850 million potential PC users exist who cannot currently afford computers that have yet to fall below the $400 mark.  “Cost is the problem,” Dukker explained.  “There hasn’t been a substantial change in almost 10 years.  When OLPC came on the scene and announced the $100 PC it caused incredible excitement.  They have done a very good job at making the $100 PC a super computer, but they have done a miserable job of making it more affordable.”
Dukker would like to work with OLPC to develop computers that share complimentary technology and a vision for bringing computing power to the developing world, but claims OLPC has made no effort to even understand NComputing’s technology.
“I’ve offered to show them [OLPC] our technology, which they have never seen.  If they included our chips and had community web-hosted servers, they would never be obsolete and could realistically get down to $100.”
The outspoken Dukker wants to do more than create controversy; he wants to change the way people understand computers.  NComputing is supported in NZ by an Australian office headed by Michael Pamphilon.  Visit www.ncomputing.com for more information.

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