[Chicago] OLPC vs Classmate

Ian Bicking ianb at colorstudy.com
Wed Apr 25 22:23:02 CEST 2007

Atul Varma wrote:
> Is the Classmate actually being marketed to the U.S. or to the
> third-world?  I could see it being fairly cool if it was actually
> intended for U.S. audiences, which have better access to power and
> such, but as far as the whole third-world thing goes, it does appear
> as though the OLPC has the upper hand.

I think Classmate is marketed to both first and third world.  The XO is 
also marketed very specifically to governments.  Not schools, or 
parents, or anyone with less than a million orders with equitable 
distribution.  The XO's software is also considerably more opinionated. 
  Children won't learn Word.  Technically Windows probably will run on 
the laptop (I know MS has tried, I don't recall seeing what the outcome 
was).  But I can't imagine it would be a reasonable platform for 
learning Office.

I think Classmate's real selling point is there are less strings 
attached, you don't have to buy into any Big Idea, it more easily fits 
in with existing infrastructure, and it doesn't try to buck the system. 
  For example, the presentation system they have for it (which projects 
the teacher's laptop onto all the students screens) fits with normal 
class models.  It doesn't fit at all with what OLPC wants to accomplish 
in education.  No one is going to stop you from doing it on the XO, but 
what you *can possibly* do on the laptop isn't going to mean much to the 
decision makers compared to what is actually implemented (or for which 
there is a firm commitment for implementation).  Once the XO is a 
deployed platform that can and probably will/should change -- but for 
now the idea, the implementation, and the platform are all collapsed 
into one thing.

Ian Bicking | ianb at colorstudy.com | http://blog.ianbicking.org
             | Write code, do good | http://topp.openplans.org/careers

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