As Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child program plods along with mixed success, the market continues to drive computer prices much lower. This past Christmas, Circuit City sold a $99 Compaq laptop (that required the customer to buy a one year subscription to Vonage), and it's inevitable that we'll see more deals like that going forward. But it looks like Negroponte would rather not deal with the competition. He recently lashed out at Intel for selling its own ultracheap computer, accusing the company of attempting to undermine OLPC by selling its computer for a loss. But it doesn't sound like there's a lot of merit to these claims. The biggest counterpoint is that Intel's computer costs more than OLPC's, which isn't what you'd expect from a company trying to undermine the program. As for a motivation, Negroponte believes that Intel wants to quash OLPC, because OLPC uses chips from rival AMD, but it's highly unlikely that Intel would sell its own chips at a loss just to prevent AMD from selling chips that can't be particularly profitable. Unlike, say, the rivalry between Microsoft and Linux, Intel doesn't have to worry about AMD chips taking hold and a whole generation growing up using them, since the network effects aren't the same. Seeing as the ultimate goal is to bring cheap computers and internet access to more people around the world, Negroponte should be glad that more companies and organizations are making this part of their mission.
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