OLPC 2.0: The future of e-book readers?

Could the next generation of the OLPC be a “Kindle-Killer”? If Nicholas Negroponte’s predictions of the XO-2 are borne out, then children in third world countries may be surfing the web on a unit that has dual screens, and a foldable e-book form factor. “The next generation laptop should be a book,” Negroponte said.

The XO-2 will employ the dual indoor-and-sunlight displays, which was pioneered by former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen. The design will provide a right and left page in vertical format, a hinged laptop in horizontal format, and a flat, two-screen continuous surface for use in tablet mode. “Younger children will be able to use simple keyboards to get going, and older children will be able to switch between keyboards customized for applications as well as for multiple languages,” the press release reads.


If Negroponte et al can overcome the trials and tribulations of the last few months (high profile employee defections, OS flip-flops, missed sales targets, PR snafus) and get this device out for a sub-$100 price point, I would argue that it would obviate the need for a product like the Kindle. What I can see occurring is a mad rush of consumers in the developed world to the “Give one – Get One” program.

No word yet on a feature like the Kindle’s “WhisperNet”, which allows auto-downloading of content without an internet connection. If that were included, it would truly put global literacy within reach.


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