Will Nicholas Negroponte Ever Understand That Competition Isn't About Killing OLPC?

from the get-over-it dept

We've never quite understood Nicholas Negroponte's position when it comes to the $100 Laptop/OLPC/XO (whatever it's called these days). While the idea behind creating a super cheap, super durable useful computer for children in developing nations is good, Negroponte has always approached the idea as one where only he should be allowed to see that vision through. When other companies decided it might be a good idea and wanted to target that market themselves, Negroponte flipped out and started attacking them for trying to undermine his project.

Sorry, Nicholas, but competition isn't undermining.

In fact, competition is generally what drives all parties to be better at what they do, in order to fend off the competition. Yet, somehow, the UK's Times Online has bought into Negroponte's side of the story and written up an article bashing Microsoft and Intel for trying to "kill" the OLPC. The article is riddled with factual errors and opinion substituting as fact, but the worst is in the central point of the article. The author mistakes companies all aiming for the same market as a nefarious attempt to "kill off" Negroponte's pet project -- as if he has some universal right to the market that no one else can attempt to enter. It also brushes over some simple facts, like the one where many countries have looked at the OLPC and realized it doesn't really serve their needs just yet. That, if anything, should be even more reason why competition is necessary. It helps create better products that actually serve the needs of people in those markets, rather than just what Negroponte decides they must want in his top-down manner.
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Filed Under: competition, execution, ideas, nicholas negroponte, olpc
Companies: amd, intel, microsoft, olpc


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  1. identicon
    Ben, 11 Aug 2008 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Lets be fair

    It's not too strange if you think about two words: predatory pricing. Fearful of losing business, these big companies will do the same thing Wal-Mart has been sued over conutless times. They will offer a $100-$200 laptop that will put the OLPC to shame, taking an intentional loss to drive out competition. Then, 2 years later (after OLPC has sufficiently been destroyed), they will announce that particular model can no longer be manufactured for that price (I'm sure due to oil or silicon pricing or some other scapegoat). They will then come out with a "new" $100 model that will have all the computing power of your average calculator.

    Yes, predatory pricing violates antitrust laws, but if you saw the miniscule fines for such things you would die laughing.

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