[OLPC Security] Grey Markets: differentiation of legitimately purchased laptops

Albert Cahalan acahalan at gmail.com
Fri Oct 19 00:52:51 EDT 2007

Mike C. Fletcher writes:

> Official word from 1CC is that this change is not going to be
> possible in the short-term.  We cannot implement these changes
> for the first run this late in the process.  Which means the
> first run of G1G1 laptops are likely going to have regular
> colouration.  We will have to rely on other processes to
> reduce/mitigate black-market operations.

Good. The desire for a fully standard XO would have made
the greymarket problem worse, not better.

There is exactly one way to destroy the grey market:
wash it away with a flood of cheap fully-legit laptops.

People at OLPC seem to forget that Cambridge and the Route 128
high-tech area in Massachusetts is not representative of the USA.
Simply put, $400 per kid is way too much for a person who is
struggling to pay the rent. There are a lot of people like that.
We have coal miners, truck stop waitresses, fry cooks, and so on.
The kids have one primary way to get moving in life: the military.
It seems like nobody cares about these kids.

Heck, $400 per kid is too much for **me**, and I'm a well-paid hacker.
I'm just not going to risk having a kid lose or destroy a $400 object.
(laptop or otherwise)

I think you'll find that cutting the price in half would more
than double the amount of sales, causing many more kids to get
laptops than they would otherwise. If OLPC is truly interested
in providing kids with laptops, then this is the obvious choice.
Even that is still too expensive for many; the original goal of
a $100 laptop would make a huge difference for kids everywhere.
If volume production is the key to getting that price down,
then G1G1 is exactly the wrong approach to make it happen.

BTW, school servers are needed too.

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