Recently online there has been a lot of buzz over a company that has a campaign called “One Laptop Per Child” . The New York Times posted an article a few days ago, describing the computers and the program. Apparently for a limited time you can purchase 2 laptops for $400.00, one of which will be donated to a child in a developing country. The company has not had a lot of success in getting donations for laptops, so they are trying the approach of appealing to American consumerism and offering one of these cool looking laptops to anyone who is willing to shell out the $400.00 dollars.
Fast Company posted an entry on their blog entitled Ethics: A Bad Day for American Altruism where the author questions the 2 for 1 marketing approach. Chris Dannen, the author of the entry says:
“We don’t need hand-cranked laptops; power is thankfully ubiquitous. There’s more processing power inside an iPhone than in this thing; even our most out-dated school computers are light-years ahead in technological terms. Not to mention that their intended use is as network terminals, so even giving your solitary XO laptop to your kid isn’t too useful. So why is this donate-one, get-one incentive a viable proposition? Because the computers are cutesy, and because Americans might want to play with one.”
I tend to agree with him. Why not appeal to American nationalism and change the program so that you can still buy 2 laptops, with one going overseas and the other one going to underprivileged schools right here in the USA? Dannen comments that the people who can afford to participate in this program — are not the ones that need laptops for their children in the USA. So why not appeal to their altruistic nature – and instead of bribing them to donate by allowing them to buy one of these specialized machine (the limited program is the only way a regular consumer can get their hands on one of these machines) — and join with one of the many US program trying to get computers into all schools for our children? There are plenty of schools int he US that are in economic areas where the school and the parents can not afford to buy computers for their kids.
Nicole, from Silicon Valley Mom’s Blog , posts about how her father runs a non profit in the US called Computers for Everyone that focuses on getting recycled computers into schools that can not afford to buy them. If “One Laptop Per Child” aligned itself with the right US programs, they would increase their marketing reach and possibly appeal to more people. I frankly would rather pay $400.00 and know that I am helping 2 underprivileged children, instead of helping one, and buying another gadget for my child.
Just my 2 cents!