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. identicon
    Mark, 13 Aug 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: From the horse's mouth

    Mike,

    I think any company has politics. But this one was especially heated because what we were trying to do with the Classmate PC and our other products was essentially create disruptive innovations (classic Innovator's Dilemma) ... products that could eventually save Intel and/or bring them huge growth, but in the short-term cannibalize their higher-end margin sales, which rubbed emotions the wrong way for those that were trying to protect the mainstream business. (Can't fault them completely for this).

    Another cultural philosophy at Intel was "disagree and commit." Lodge your disagreement but then go do it. It worked well mostly.

    But the political maneuver with our products was something I called "disagree and stall". I had to get the CEO to get the salesforce to sell the stuff, which he did, but in the end the sales guys just sat on it.

    But to be fair, from what I hear from the current GM and team, its a lot different now (i left at the end of 2006) and the saleforce is behind it.

    Mark

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