One Smartphone Per Child

By Patrick Appel

The Walrus's Jon Evans whacks Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child project, which laid off half its staff last week:

...the whole idea of distributing laptops to poor children was completely misguided to begin with. Did the OLPC braintrust think they were bringing modern technology to the Third World? They were years too late; it’s already there, in the form of the not-so-humble-any-more cell phone.

[...] What Negroponte & co. should have done was One Smartphone Per Child; a smartphone is not much different from a netbook that can connect to both cell networks and Wi-Fi, and has GPS…and that you can also use as, well, a phone. But alas, OLPC suffered from a failure of imagination from the very beginning. I hate to say it, but despite all its PR glory and good intentions, it was never more than a bad implementation of a bad idea, and its eventual failure was all but inevitable.