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
    Bunny, 11 Aug 2008 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re: Intel is not competing fairly

    What exactly is "unfair" about it?

    If an intel rep came onto the board of YOUR company and was then assigned to all the travel to customer sites around the world and then, in a sales pitch told the local contacts NOT to buy your product, would that seem fair to you?

    Wouldn't that (in a worst-case scenario) possibly succeed in undoing all of your efforts and causing the project to flop and cause the people who donated to be less interested in participating in your next project? Were it a commercial venture, would your company's shareholders be happy with you as CEO and your board or would they find someone to sue to kingdom come as a result?

    It isn't a commercial situation, it's only a charitable work, but that was Negroponte's exact point, wasn't it?


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