According to Dell, those so-called $100 laptops wont be powerful enough to make much of a difference in their lives.
"The issue is not so much what does it cost, but what does it do," he said during a question and answer session with customers and finalists of the Dell/National Federation of Independent Business Small-Business Excellence Award.
According to Dell, inexpensive laptops wont meet the needs of their intended recipients. To illustrate his point, he noted that roughly 125 million computers come out of circulation every year worldwide, but arent recycled because theyre considered archaic. "Nobody really wants them because they dont do very much," he said.
Diane Turcin, administrative director of The Seed Day Care Center, a runner-up for the award, had asked Dell whether he intended for his company to participate in the One Laptop Per Child program begun by MIT Media Lab chairman Nicholas Negroponte.
Dell answered that "what Nicholas has started is a discussion," and noted that the laptops will probably cost closer to $200.
Turcin later told eWeek that she was surprised by Dells response.
"People often donate computers," she said.