by Timothy Lee
Mon, Jan 7th 2008 7:01am
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.
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