Negroponte Open Sources OLPC Hardware Design, Invites Copy-Cats

Negroponte Open Sources OLPC Hardware Design, Invites Copy-Cats

The embattled OLPC program, already reeling from job cuts and salary decreases, is making one final attempt to stay afloat: Open source everything and hope enough companies copy the design to make it profitable.

The news was delivered by OLPC frontman Nicholas Negroponte himself, during remarks at this week’s TED 2009 conference.

Blogger Ethan Zuckerman, reporting from TED, said Negroponte hopes the new open source hardware design will be “something that everyone copies.”

“Commercial markets will go to no end to stop you. It’s sort of a tragedy,” Negroponte said. “So the future of One Laptop Per Child is to go ‘from uppercase to lower case,’ to ‘build something that everyone copies.'”

According to Negroponte, the open design will lead to companies worldwide creating 5 to 6 million machines, per month, in three years time. That’s a lot of little mean green machines with those weird alien wifi antennas.

And while this technically sounds like more of a licensing deal than true “open source,” it will be interesting to see what companies cook up using the OLPC design over the next few years. If it catches on, that is. [Ethan Zuckerman via CNET]