Tuesday, May 6, 2008

G1G1 '07 Lessons for 2008

G1G1 2008

Let's be honest. The success of last year's program, G1G1 2007 was unprecedented despite receiving very little coverage in the mainstream media. After all, how many products out there can compete with the iPod, Wii,Xbox 360, and PS3?

So, what do we want to see this year? How can the whole program be improved to avoid the pitfalls of last year?

Hits and Misses

I don't want to get into the negatives too much. Rather I want to sumerize the misses and hope that the lessons of those have been learnt and OLPC will embark on an improved G1G1 2008.

The program was announced in October of 2007 and on day one, November 16th, ordering started as XO-philes poured into the site (personally, I didn't participate until December 17th). The program was to end on December 31, 2007. Initially, the enuthiasm of a Christmas Day XO opening enticed many to beat the rush. Everything was set to make sure the XO would be in the hands of thousands of children (of all ages) by Christmas Eve.

Millions of dollars were donated. Expectation after so many years of e-commerce experience may have allowed users such as myself to expect a timely ordering process. Unfortunately, the entire experience was far from perfect.

Missteps soon took hold. Delays in the manufacturing surfaced and demand was greater than anyone at G1G1 expected. A plethora of complaints were posted on various sites ranging from simple neglect, lost orders, changing personnels, and incorrect shipping dates and addesses.

To top it off, in January, a G1G1 spokesperson pleaded for more patience as they reportedly found additional unfilled orders. Keep in mind, most if not all of the funds for the donations have been collected. Paypal accounts and credit cards were charged. Mine was charged on December 31th, probably to make the 2007 donation deadline for tax reporting purposes.

Eventually, mine arrived in February, about two months after the order date. There were donors who were provided March shipping dates.

No one seem to have a clear picture of what was going on behind the scene. If anyone claims otherwise, I would take it with a grain of salt. I don't even think the G1G1 volunteers themselves know. However, I do commend their effort and time in making G1G1 possible.

Now, what does the G1G1 have to do to make sure 2008 will not be like 2007? I have a few suggestions.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Most of the donors are enthusiastic about the laptop. We can be very understanding. We were giving very little information until January, and most donors relied on media speculations and rumors that ran rampant in the rumors.

OLPC has had a successful G1G1 despite having all of the problems I described. Instead of giving us specific dates, be more conservative with the number of units that can be shipped and more liberal with the leadtimes.

One thing you have to say about Apple, whether you're a fan or not, is that they don't ship anything until they're Steve Jobs ready. We are fans of gadgets, education, or whatever the reasons donors are excited about OLPC and the XO laptop, we will wait. Do more testing before making any kind of announcements.

Build up a little inventory for 2008. Now, you're certain there is a lot of demands for it. It might be smart to introduce the XO to more donor nations.

Also, how about G1G1 Summer 2008 instead of late fall? The program can shoot for the back-to-school rush. Then, there won't be a preceived deadline like Christmas Eve was.

Sell accessories. I'm in the market for another battery. Maybe another AC adapter. Buy one battery, donate another?

Also, how about $300 instead of $400? G1G1 was a terrific idea. Hats off to whoeveer thought of it. Now, it'll be another year before G1G1 2008 happens again. Most financial experts don't think the economy will improve until 2009. Times are tough. I think even donating half a laptop is a deal. Plus, it could bring in a whole lot more donors. $100 is a big deal.

I've got other ideas for G1G1 2008. Now, I am sure there are other great ideas out there on how OLPC can expand and make the XO an even greater success.

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