First, this is a great cause. Making a computer that is cost-effective in the developing world is not only admirable, but important.
What a difference this can make to those countries where the per-capita income is much lower than the US, and most of Western Europe. Not to mention the poor in those countries. I currently live in Brazil, a country where many people merely scrape by on two or three incomes per home. Computers are pure luxury here.
I purchased a computer for my wife about a year ago so that we could stay in touch while I was in the States. It cost me a little more than US $500. Now, I know that is not all that bad, as it was an all inclusive package. I am afraid to check to see if the operating system, and other software is pirated, though. All of that came pre-loaded, and I don't know if there were any CD's or licenses included.
Five-hundred bucks, though, is quite a price here. In the city where I am, its rent for seven months, with enough for food for a week or two left over.
I am not sure how this whole thing will work as far as the different governments involved. I have seen that the Brazilian Government is involved, which is probably good. See, when I bought that computer a year ago, I was told that about half of the $500 I spent went to taxes. However, since this project is supposed to be entirely government funded (with some subsidy coming from a different version for sale direct to the consumer), the cost to the end-user should not be a problem.
I am excited about this project, not only for the cost, but for the inclusion of software (open source), and the compatibility with peer machines.
To learn more click here for the MIT website, or here for the Wiki entry.
The next important step is to make sure that these children have a cost-effective way of connecting to the internet. This is another high-cost item here, which needs to be addressed.
I originally intended to mention that this initiative could change the balance of the internet. More non-English speaking people would have access. More bloggers in the blogosphere.
These are good things, but the internet community will have to make some adjustments due to the influx of new users.