A proportion of the low-cost PCs designed by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) for kids in the developing world will go to people in North America.

The move is the result of OLPC plans that will allow US and Canadian residents pay $400 for one laptop and donate one to a child in a developing nation.

Initially, at least, purchasers won't be able to choose where the second laptop will go.

"The idea is to help feed programs in the least developed countries, and broaden the community of engagement," said Walter Bender, president of software and content for OLPC. By putting the laptops in the hands of people in North America, the group hopes to persuade more people to contribute content or other developments to the project, he said.

The offer will start on 12 November, and run until 26 November. "We don't want to divert too much away from the developing world, so we'll do a short window," Bender said.

Mass production of the laptops is scheduled for October, with the first units landing in the hands of kids around the world in early November, he said. The initial run will generate 40,000 units, and production will quickly triple that capacity to meet demand, he said.

The original plan for the OLPC project was to create a laptop that would cost less than $100, but more recently the price has been pegged closer to $190. The $400 deal for two laptops includes some padding for the cost of sending one of the laptops to a remote location, Bender said.