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Monday, January 12, 2009

OLPC suffers set back, cuts jobs

The popular One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, has suffered another setback as it announced intention to cut workforce by 50 per cent, reducing salaries for the remaining staff, and restructuring its operations.

CNET News.com reports that the founder of OLPC, Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, made this announcement last week Wednesday and said that the organisation which aims at providing low-cost laptops to children in developing countries, announced the cuts in a company blog post.

“Like many other nonprofits that are facing tough economic times, One Laptop Per Child must downsize in order to keep costs in line with fewer financial resources... While we are saddened by this development, we remain firmly committed to our mission of getting laptops to children in developing countries.”

Negroponte expressed gratitude for the work contributed by staff being let go.
“The fact that there are 500,000 children around the world who have laptops is testament to their extraordinary work and is already a key part of OLPC’s legacy,” he said.

Also he wrote that the company will focus on development of its second-generation device, but will hands-off development of the sugar operating system to the open-source community.

The project recently revived its two-for-one deal on its low-cost laptop. Amazon.com was tapped to handle its Give One, Get One programme, launched initially in 2007. Through the program, anyone can pay for two XO laptops; one is shipped to the buyer, and the other is sent to a schoolchild in a developing nation.

The device comes loaded with both Windows XP and the Linux-based Sugar operating system created for the XO. The inclusion of XP stemmed from concerns that developing nations wouldn’t buy the laptops for its classrooms without the world’s dominant OS on it.

However, the group has faced its share of challenges in the three years since it was formed. Its XO laptops initially cost $188 (£125) each, instead of the anticipated $100, and some countries are scaling back their deployment plans. Intel, which was briefly part of the project, quit in January 2008, claiming OLPC was pressuring it not to compete with its own laptops.

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