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. icon
    Mike (profile), 11 Aug 2008 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Intel is not competing fairly

    The worst part of it is Intel has been trash talking OLPC in all of the countries in which OLPC was going to be deployed.

    You mean explaining why they thought their product was better? How dare they!

    Not only has Intel been trash talking the OLPC, Intel representatives have even been threatening the different politicians in each of those countries.

    Do you have any proof of this?

    Or more blatant, Intel has been selling their classmate in low quantities at a loss.

    Um, wouldn't that mean that kids get laptops for even lower amounts? Isn't that the goal of this project? Or must the laptops come from Nick Neg?

    It's like if you are a multi-billion dollar company and I'm a 23-man startup. I make a really good product, but then to try to drive me out of business, you take your old market-leading product, sell a few thousand special versions at a loss to any of my potential customers, you offer them "free customer support" and stuff like that on top, and this way you are trying to delay my effective expansion with my product which is in fact much better and cheaper then your market leading product.

    For all the times people give this excuse, no one has ever pointed to an example where this strategy actually works. So after "dumping" then the big company tries to raise its prices back up and... bam... another opportunity for a cheaper provider to come in and supply the market.

    This is not competition, this is unfair competition.

    What exactly is "unfair" about it?

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