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), 13 Aug 2008 @ 3:01pm

    Re: From the horse's mouth

    Wow, this subject really strikes a never. I may be the only one who can speak from the trenches of the war between Negroponte and Intel. I was GM of the business group at Intel the created the Classmate PC from 2005 to 2006. The internally politics at Intel eventually forced me to move out from what I thought was a dream job at the time.

    Hi Mark, thanks for chiming in. I can definitely identify with the "internal politics" issue at Intel -- though I remember part of their recruiting pitch years ago was that there was "no politics" at Intel thanks to the rise of "constructive confrontation." I always found that to be silly, and apparently it still is. :)

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