There have been several recent announcements by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project worth note. OLPC is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Nicholas Negroponte and others from the MIT Media Lab with the goal of providing one laptop for every child on the planet. So far they have delivered about 500,000 systems. That’s huge by any standard.
The first new announcement is that project leaders have now announced that Microsoft windows will run on the devices. The laptops will have a duel boot mode so Linux will also be an OS. The decision adds cost to the laptop, but not much. More memory is required to run two OSs, and Microsoft is charging $3 per CPU in licensing fees.
The second recent announcement is a new design. The current design is a smart, futuristic looking device that looks great and provides great functionality in a form factor that can take a beating.
The next version, due in 2010, is a smaller model that has dual touch screens and no keyboard.
This will give great flexibility to the device, since one touch screen can act as a keyboard when needed or act as a page in a book when needed or be used in several other ways by applications yet to be created. The new version will reportedly only consume a watt of power.
All this is interesting and intellectually stimulating. These trends are also important for enterprise CTOs to track. One is the continuing and accelerating trend of “consumers first” when it comes to IT development. Increasingly developers are focusing on consumers and that is having an impact on the IT developed for big enterprises. That trend has been underway for a long long time (evidence the 3.3 billion cell phone accounts active in Nov 2007, or the huge success of Facebook). Hot technologies like the iPhone and OLPC are accelerating this trend, and, although as an optimist and technologist I am really excited about that trend, it certainly makes life harder for CTOs.
Another critically important point for CTOs to think through is the cyber threat environment and how it is changing with the rapid, widespread adoption of very low cost very powerful computers.
A bit more on that is in my previous post at: