Print 84 comment(s) - last by Justin Case.. on May 23 at 5:06 PM

OLPC founder, Negroponte, has a few words for Intel on low-cost laptops

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the "One Laptop Per Child" initiative, accused chip maker Intel of undermining the OLPC by selling its own cut-price laptop, the Classmate.  Negroponte claims that Intel is trying to drive him out of the market.

According to BBC, Negroponte said that Intel hurt his mission in trying to distribute laptops to kids in developing countries "enormously".  Intel's chairman, Craig Barrett, has denied all claims of undercutting Negroponte's mission, stating, "We're not trying to drive [him] out of business. We're trying to bring capability to young people."

Though the hardware specifications differ between Intel’s low-cost laptops and Negroponte's, OLPC founder believes that the main problem is that his machines use AMD processors, Intel's main competitor. "Intel and AMD fight viciously," he told CBS. "We're just sort of caught in the middle."

Professor Negroponte also claimed that Intel has distributed marketing literature to governments entailing negative aspects of the One Laptop Per Child and outlining superior aspects of the Classmate.  Some of the literature had titles such as "the shortcomings of the One Laptop per Child approach".  Intel responded by saying that it was just making comparisons between the Classmate PC and the other device in the market.

Countries have until May 31 to place their orders for the first round of PCs.  The launch price will be $175 but the goal is to get them down to $100 each.  Intel is taking orders for the Classmate for over $200 each.

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RE: Economics 101
By stromgald on 5/21/2007 8:15:01 PM , Rating: 2
True, this makes it more difficult for Negroponte to gain economies of scale, but to be honest, if he did his job right, he shouldn't have to worry much. In building the OLPC, he should have gotten bids from multiple chip and component vendors and chosen the best and most cost efficient ones. But, before that, he should've gotten a feel of how many PCs he was going to build. Between those two things, Negroponte should have a solid backing from both his customers (the governments of 3rd world nations) and his suppliers (chip manufacturer, mobo manufacturer, etc.).

My worry is that he didn't do such a good job (maybe because he didn't forsee any competition), and now the third world countries are looking at switching to Intel's solution. No matter what the history is, expecting Intel to just back off is out of the question. Intel is profit oriented and sees profit in this venture. Negroponte should explore with his suppliers, specifically AMD, to see how to make his laptop more competitive rather than whining about his plight to the public.

RE: Economics 101
By Justin Case on 5/22/2007 12:34:47 AM , Rating: 2
He did. Intel wasn't interested. In fact, Intel (and Craig Barrett in particular) has been saying this ultra-low-cost laptop idea is stupid for the past 4 years. And now he's on a campaign to convince everyone who had signed up for it that it doesn't work, that Intel will have something much better, and so on. Pretty mught the definition of FUD.

And that is why Negroponte is complaining - because Intel is trying to poison 3rd world governments against the OLPC, not because they are delivering a credible alternative.

This reminds me of how some African countries went along with some so-called "environmentalists", refused offers of GM food, and let thousands of their people starve to death.

RE: Economics 101
By Oregonian2 on 5/22/2007 5:34:30 PM , Rating: 3
So the real problem is that those governments are stupid?

RE: Economics 101
By Justin Case on 5/22/2007 11:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
Governments are vulnerable to marketing and FUD campagins, just like regular consumers. So in a broad sense, yes the problem is that people in general are stupid. In this specific case, the problem is that Intel is using its marketing machine to kill a charity program, because they're afraid it'll hurt their profits in the long run.

It's as if McDonald's started spreading lies about the food people donate to refugees, to get them to buy Big Macs instead.

RE: Economics 101
By Oregonian2 on 5/23/2007 2:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
So if Intel does have a competitor product that the same customers might buy instead, what's wrong with that?

RE: Economics 101
By Justin Case on 5/23/2007 5:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
So if McDonald's starts spending its advertising money trying to convince people that food donated by charities is bad for you, what's wrong with that?

If you can't figure it out by yourself, I don't think there's much point in trying to explain.

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