The $100 laptop at the heart of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative could be made available to members of the public.

The availability of the low-end device was initially expected to be restricted to governments in emerging economies, some of which are buying millions of units to distribute to schools and children. It was not thought to be appropriate for general sale due to the need to reduce manufacturing and distribution costs by producing very large numbers of systems on demand.

But Michail Bletsas, chief connectivity officer at OLPC, said those behind the project could rethink the strategy and make the low-end systems available in the western world next year.

He told BBC News that OLPC is working with Ebay on a way to minimise the cost of distribution which, he said, “is pretty high in the western world".

One idea touted by OLPC is to insist that western customers buy two laptops, one for their personal use, and one to be sent to developing countries. Those behind the project said at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that the device will reach its $100 target price next year. A ‘yo-yo’ battery charger for the laptop has also been demonstrated.

Five million of the laptops are expected to be delivered this summer, with Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand among the first recipients.