Mary Lou Jepsen, the XO laptop's designer and OLPC's CTO, split from the project a little over a week ago to "commercialise" some of the tech she developed for the project—the display in particular—through a for-profit venture, Pixel-Qi. Probable result: a new generation of OLPC competitors from commercial outfits. But it gets better! It's come out Pixel-Qi's aiming to completely undercut the OLPC with a 75 dollar laptop.
Okay, we remember how far OLPC spiralled way past its $US100 laptop goal. So how can XO's designer—who should know as well as anyone the difficulties involved in cranking out uber-cheap machines—except to slash 25 per cent off a price OLPC couldn't touch?
Because Pixel Qi stands to make beaucoup bucks from licensing tech to commercial companies, subsidising its low-cost laptop, a far more effective business model than hoping wishy-washy governments maintain their closed-door promises to buy your wares while getting courting by your frenemy at the same time.
While Pixel Qi might provide components to OLPC "at cost," if it really puts a laptop on the marketplace that costs almost a third of XO's current price, XO is probably donezo. [Yahoo!]