TED: Negroponte Says OLPC Started Netbook Craze; Will Open-Source Its Hardware

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop for Child, today at the TED Conference claimed credit for instigating the rise of netbooks. He said we can thank OLPC, which he proposed three years ago, for estimates that netbooks will be half the market in 12 months.

But he decried the influence for-profit companies have had on OLPC, saying commercial markets have competed with the project mercilessly. And OLPC’s hardiness and specialization for children have not been replicated in netbooks, whereas they are some of the most important aspects of the product. OLPC has half a million devices in use today, and they are even being used by kids to teach their parents how to read and write.

So what Negroponte is going to do is open source the OLPC hardware, he said, and invite competitors to copy it. His hope is that will result in 5 to 6 million OLPC-type laptops per month going to children three years from now.

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