Race to the $100 Laptop

kids outside holding laptops over their heads

I’m seeing two different approaches to the $100 laptop. MIT is starting from scratch and — as you would guess — focusing on technology to simplify the current platform:

…we will get the fat out of the systems. Today’s laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third, which mostly does the same functions nine different ways.

Dell aims to get there by — as you would guess — pushing the limits of operational efficiency. Dell currently sells a laptop for $560 and a desktop for $299, so the $100 price point isn’t that far away.

In both cases, an organization is using a core competency to achieve a goal. But in both cases I wonder if the edge competencies are reversed. It seems the actual costs of Dell’s computers are pretty low and some ruthless efficiency in (MIT’s goal of) getting them distributed to children in developing countries is needed. On the other hand, we all suffer from needlessly complex laptops and MIT’s work should be championed by Dell.