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
    PaulT (profile), 12 Aug 2008 @ 12:29am

    Re: Re: Competition?

    "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."

    I think the problem is that both of these companies have histories of shady and unfair tactics to obtain and maintain monopolies in their chosen market. They have a history of colluding with each other in order to force their products onto the least sophisticated consumer (and what consumers are less sophisticated than ones targetted here?).

    They are after mindshare - the next generation of Microsoft customers who won't be given exposure to alternative technologies. These people will not make a choice for themselves - they can't afford to shop around - and so we end up with another generation taught that MS = good, Linux = bad.

    That sounds like a doomsday scenario, but I can't think of any other reason. It's unlikely that either of these companies are interested in the charitable element of the project, and it's extremely unlikely that OLPC stands a hope of competing directly. It's not a free market if one company is able to destroy its competitors based on the influence it has in other markets. It's not a free market when dealing with monopolies (which both of these companies are).

    If the MS/Intel product is noticeably superior, and not being sold at a massive loss, it might be a free market. But, I've seen nothing that suggests either of these is true.

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