OLPC Cancels XO 3 Tablet, Reduces Focus on Designing Hardware

One Laptop Per Child’s plan to expand its scope to manufacturing rugged, low-cost tablets for educational use in third-world countries has been scuttled. The organization’s XO 3 tablet has been shelved, OLPC chairman Nicholas Negroponte recently told the IDG News Service, but the technology OLPC included in the design models — including a solar charger and a display that uses environmental light to brighten the display — could pop up in future projects.

OLPC showed off a prototype of the XO 3 tablet at CES, but the organization reportedly ran into troubles finding manufacturers willing to build the hardware at the desired $100-ish price point. Given that, the now widespread availability of low-cost tablets such as the Google Nexus 7 reduced the need for a dedicated OLPC tablet, representatives said. Negroponte said those mainstream tablets could instead be ruggedized for use in developing regions.

“That’s the nice part of being a nonprofit,” he said. “We do things — like design hardware — when no one else is stepping up to do them. If someone else can do them, we can stop.”

Accordingly, the organization says it may start to shy away from developing its own hardware designs moving forward, though it still plans on releasing the XO 4 Touch, a touchscreen-enabled laptop/e-reader hybrid. OLPC could also purchase third-party tablets for distribution to schools, Negroponte told IDG.

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