November 1, 2007


Wal-Mart to carry $199 computer (Eric Benderoff, October 31, 2007, Chicago Tribune)

Prices for consumer electronics goods, ranging from HDTVs to mobile phones, drop consistently, but few products have more potential to impact a person's ability to learn or find work than a computer.

The cheap computers -- sold beginning this week at 20 Illinois Wal-Mart locations -- are offered at a time when charitable efforts such as the "One laptop per child" program intended to provide portable computers for $100 to children in developing countries, have struggled to achieve results. That laptop will now cost $200, but the program has yet to deliver a product.

The computer for sale at Wal-Mart, on the other hand, can immediately put an affordable machine into the hands of anyone from students in low-income households to senior citizens on strict budgets, thus addressing the critical social issue of a so-called "digital divide" in the U.S. between those with access to computers and the Internet and those without.

Others talk about helping folks on a budget, Sam did it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 1, 2007 7:10 AM

Thank the long boom for $199 computers. It is the triumph of capitalism over Marxism, the private sector over the bureaucracy, the right over the left.

Posted by: Perry at November 1, 2007 8:50 AM

IIRC, the One Laptop Per Child thing doesn't actually cost $200 to manufacture. Folks in developing nations can get one for $100. However, for those of us in the US of A, we have to pay double to subsidize handing them out to everyone else. Technically, the OLPC computer is cheaper to make, but their policy decisions artificially inflate the price.

Posted by: Jay at November 1, 2007 9:26 AM


The OLPC actually does cost close to $200 to manufacture, mostly due to it being a fairly sturdy notebook with some novel features rather than a (monitorless) desktop. The failure of the OLPC group to just sell the darn things is a pity; it would doubtless work far better than their naive attempts at efficiency by routing around capitalism.

Posted by: Mike Earl at November 1, 2007 9:38 AM

I don't mind paying double for kids or even oldsters to get their hands on a computer, but I mind mightily paying a bunch of leftie do-gooder loonies to distribute them.

Posted by: erp at November 1, 2007 12:38 PM

Hey, cheap laptops are great, but wouldn't it make more sense to get these kids living in grotty mud huts in Africa good nutrition, clean water and vaccinations? And maybe a compentent government and free markets for their parents?

Posted by: Bryan at November 1, 2007 1:10 PM

You are missing the point. Unless the Walmart computer comes with its own power grid it is not going to be useful in very poor nations that are the target market. The one laptop per child machine has very, very, very low power consumption.

Posted by: Chris at November 1, 2007 2:49 PM

Mike: Thanks for the heads-up. I was going off of memory from my techie news sources.

Posted by: Jay at November 1, 2007 3:38 PM


Well, the plan had been for it to cost $100, but that didn't quite work out...

Posted by: Mike Earl at November 1, 2007 4:25 PM

Solar power batteries anyone?

Posted by: erp at November 2, 2007 1:16 PM