For all the digital ink we've spilled over the One Laptop Per Child initiative (basically a cheap, rugged laptop for kids in developing countries), you'd think the devices would be sitting in every classroom by now.
Starting as a $100 laptop that governments, corporations, or charitable groups were going to sponsor, the OLPC group recently adjusted its strategy (and price). At closer to $200 dollars, the latest plan was for the general public to buy one for themselves and sponsor one for a child in a developing nation. After what seems like years of waiting for hardware to start coming off the production line, the buy two, get one program was scheduled to kick off in November.
Today, we hear of another wrinkle in the long journey of the OLPC from well-meaning idea to reality. Reuters reports that the OLPC XO laptop was scheduled to already be in production at a Chinese factory by this month, but unexplained problems have forced the manufacturing date back to mid-November. That will make it harder for the two countries that already have placed large orders, Peru and Uruguay, to get the systems in hand in time for the end of the school term, even if everything goes according to plan from here on out (which, given the track record, seems unlikely).
We love the OLPC in theory, but the more time passes, the more competition it faces from other low-cost laptops such as the Intel Classmate and the Asus Eee, both of which have generated a lot of buzz of late, and seem closer to getting systems into people's hands.