According to this interview on Electronics Weekly the devices not only are real, 50 prototypes have been delivered, and are already running Debian. They will come in two versions to start. One will be a 128MB machine with no network and only one USB port and cost @$25. The second will have 256MB of RAM, a network port and 2 USB ports and cost @$35. Both will have a 700MHZ processor, Stereo Sound Output through a standard Headphone jack, HDMI and the old composite connection for hooking up to your TV. All of this will end up on a package the size of a credit card. The goal for the developers is to inspire the next generation to want to tinker with PC's like the current generation did.
According to this article we found, meetings are starting to happen and people are trying to move towards a common Application Installer. So their could be the end of the "My package manager is better than yours is" debates? Well it's a bit early to tell but it does sound like the big distros are talking about settling on a common package format. If they do go forward with this we can only hope that it's adoption moves faster than LSB(Linux Standards Base). It would definitely go a long way to help adoption of Linux as a platform. For instance, only seeing one line on download pages like Windows and Mac have would help newbies or people thinking about trying linux be less afraid. When you can create app stores that only have to carry one type of package they become a lot easier to create. We here at linuxinstall.net hope that every linux install will get easier over time.
What do you think? What problems will one package format have? What hidden benefits are there? What hidden problems?