OLPC And Intel Split Over Friction From Competing Laptop

from the sore-losers dept

Last year, after a very public spat with Intel over its competing Classmate PC, the One Laptop Per Child project appeared to patch up its differences with Intel and welcome them as a supporter. Now, they've had a nasty breakup, with each blaming the other for the separation. Intel said OLPC had demanded it stop selling the Classmate PC as a condition of continuing as a supporter of the OLPC project. OLPC head Nicolas Negroponte countered that Intel had "contributed nothing of value" to the OLPC project in the last six months. Negroponte's claims don't make a lot of sense. If Intel had merely failed to contribute resources to the project, that would hardly justify such a public and acrimonious split. The only other complaint, that Intel "continued to disparage" OLPC's product after joining the project, suggests that Negroponte is tacitly conceding that Intel's Classmate PC was the real sore point. As we said last year, this seems like a case of sour grapes on Negroponte's case. It's ridiculous to think that in a world with hundreds of millions of poor children there should only be one low-cost laptop design. Giving governments in developing countries more options can only be a good thing for poor kids. Negroponte sniffs that "we view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market." But if Intel is able to provide developing countries with a better laptop at a lower price—and turn a profit in the process—what's wrong with that? Losing those sales might bruise Negroponte's ego, but it's hard to see how it's bad for the kids whose interests Negroponte claims to champion.

Filed Under: $100 laptop, nicholas negroponte, olpc
Companies: intel, olpc

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  1. identicon
    KD, 7 Jan 2008 @ 4:14pm

    Drinking Intel's Kool-Aid

    Tim, check your beverage supply.

    Intel was trying to do its version of Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

    The Classmate is not a better product at a lower price. The OLPC was designed from the beginning to focus on encouraging and supporting learning in environments where today that is very hard. The Classmate is a slightly stripped down Wintel PC, thrown together in a hurry to try to block what Intel sees as an infant threat to their business. Giving traditional Wintel PCs to children in third world countries won't do very much to encourage and support learning there.

    What Intel did could be considered child abuse in two senses -- trying to kill off an infant project, and trying to eliminate the benefits that a health OLPC project will bring to the children it intends to serve.

    The OLPC group no doubt is not perfect, and may have contributed in some small ways to the situation with Intel, but Intel was a bad actor in this from the get-go. Their only interest -- ONLY interest -- is to block the rise of what they fear is a potentially important competing technology.

    Every right-thinking person should censure Intel in the strongest terms.

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