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 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Competition?

    MS and Intel do not want market penetration of their respective monopolies. The OLPC is about getting technology into the hands of the disadvantaged, not about mega profits. It is a charitable or not-for-profit operation if you will.

    So, you are saying that Intel and MS want to continue to lead their markets. No one denies that. But we're asking where the problem is.

    That is entirely different from what Intel and MS is up to, which is not let anything else get market share, or even market awareness, even if this means giving their product away in this particular market at a loss.

    Except that giving away products at a loss is not a sustainable business model anyway. Even if they "kill" the OLPC (which seems unlikely anyway), then what? Then Intel raises its prices? Well, darn, that just opens the market up for someone else to come in with a cheap product.

    You know who benefits from all this? The kids getting those cheap laptops.

    Where exactly is the problem?

    How do you undercut free?

    There are many, many ways to undercut free. If you don't know them, then you apparently don't read this site very often.

    How about some real "free market" journalism.

    Well, we're not a journalism site, so I'm not sure why you expect us to live up to your standard, but if you want to compete with us, go ahead. We won't accuse you of some nefarious plan to "kill" us.

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