In 2005, Mary Lou Jepsen designed a "$100 laptop" for the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child, which supplies low-cost computers to poor children. Now she's taking the idea to the private sector with her new company, Pixel Qi, which plans an even better bargain: a "$75 laptop." Jepsen spoke with NEWSWEEK's Miyoko Ohtake:
What kind of laptop are you getting for just $75?
It can do everything a regular laptop can do and more: it has three times the wireless range, a sunlight-readable screen, a battery that lasts for 20 to 30 hours. And you can drop it.
If you can offer all that at such a low price, why are other laptops still so expensive?
It's possible to halve the price of a laptop every 18 months, but the computing industry has instead doubled the computing power and kept the price about the same.
What will it take for laptop prices to drop?
Volume. The growth in computing is in serving the 6.5 billion people of the world, at prices they can afford with performance they need. It's not about the billion richest people in the world anymore. Look at DVD players: 15 years ago they were really expensive, but now you can buy one for $30.