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.

Filed Under: competition, execution, ideas, nicholas negroponte, olpc
Companies: amd, intel, microsoft, olpc


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 11 Aug 2008 @ 6:12pm

    Re:

    The idea that competition is always good for society is also an opinion substituting as fact.

    No, it's pretty clearly opinion. This is an opinion site.

    Even Adam Smith, who originated the idea of the "invisible hand" never said that self-interested competition always led to the greater good, he just said that it sometimes did.

    Can you explain why it wouldn't in this situation?

    Clearly, various countries are not impressed by the OLPC as is. So what's wrong with competitors getting into the market?

    Being skeptical of the motives of Intel and Microsoft is a pretty reasonable reaction given both companies history of anti-competitive actions in the past.

    This isn't "being skeptical". This is accusing them of trying to kill a project for nefarious reasons with no evidence.

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