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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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By gorobei on 5/21/2007 10:50:09 PM , Rating: 5
1) westernized countries and pc users have much different expectations from their computers and their idea of a "laptop". The point of the XO is to provide a tool for improving education and standard of life. It is not to get everyone wired up, crunching spreadsheets, watching you HD bootlegs, and fraging. Try to ignore how inadequate the hardware might be for your purposes and read about what the XO can do for them. From what I've seen the OLPC goes to places where there is little infrastructure and people are working, and able to feed themselves. If this was a hand cranked radio being given out so people in asia could be warned about tsunami waves, I doubt everyone would be so invective. Think of the OLPC as an appliance that helps kids learn a little. Like a speak'N'Spell built into a bottle top opener.

2) Communication: If nothing else, the OLPC provides infrastructure at a massive discount. One of the main features of the XO is email. Using a wireless networking relay system where each OLPC acts as a repeater passing packets across a network peer cloud, the XO can create an entire communication system covering square miles without ever laying down telephone wires, powerlines, or billing offices. In places where mail isn't delivered to your doorstep and you have to walk miles to pickup a package, the possibility of instant conectivity is monumental. The OLPC goes to a child who takes it back to their family. There are additional people who benefit from the program. [It even has a web cam. which is more than a lot of PC users in the US have]

3) Education: The OLPC plan states that each XO comes with a copy of wikipedia. Assuming the more trivial entries are pruned, the amount of knowledge being made available to people who would never have access to a library is massive. If nothing else the user would be exposed to the idea of technology. Or would you prefer that they be ignorant backwood rubes, all ripe and ready to be converted by Christian missionaries who dazzle them with a movie version of the bible(this is actually happening) because they have never seen a movie projector before.
Jojo: "hey momo, you see that movie yesterday at the tribal ring about Jesus guy with all the super powers?"
Momo: "nah, I watch Heroes on Youtube instead. Much better production values."

4) Hardware: The reason why the competition from Intel(classmate), India, and even the XO manufacturer is bad is that they are putting out a bad product that is wrong for the proposed users. The design and specs of the XO were created specifically for the people who would never buy a computer, never upgrade it, never be able to take it in for repairs. It is low powered, low temp, and is dust and waterproof(to a degree.) It has a handcrank charging system and a display that works in daylight. It is meant to look like a kid's toy so that adults wont be tempted to steal it and walk around with it. It has low cost components so that you wont be tempted to scrap it for parts. The Classmate design from Intel is simply there to keep AMD from dominating a new viable market where it can develop new technology that might come back to the mainstream and blow out Intel later on.
-[Right now most of the PCs are filled with bloat: excess software, unused resources, overheating components. The XO cuts it down to the absolute bare minimum of what is "needed". The 'appliance' model of computers says you turn on the product and it just works. No installing, no upgrading, no patching. You wouldn't tolerate a microwave that needed an antivirus update every couple of days, or a refrigerator that crashed when you stuck an out-of-spec soup inside.]-
The classmate is just the cheapest, lowest spec parts that Intel can cobble together. It still has all the vulnerabilities of win86 PCs. I bet the XO users will have 100x fewer BSOD than we will ever have.

NOTE: I was as skeptical and cynical as everyone else when I read about the OLPC on dailytech. After seeing the 60minutes piece this sunday and reading up online, I have to say it is a far more positivist move than anything else people have tried. If it doesn't work, then we wasted some money. We do that all the time anyways. If it does work, the upside is massive. Each country's government that buys the OLPC is still responsible for setting up a proper curriculum, but at least the product is there and designed to work instead of getting them locked into the Intel upgrade/extortion cycle.




By eppenoire on 5/21/2007 11:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
Well said. I still personally think the idea will be a failure, because it ignores the realities of an environment where people hunt for cardboard to recycle for money. Yes, it won't be as valuable because of the parts in it; however I expect there to be market for scrapping these.

I still believe books are better. They are cheaper, more plentiful and I have yet to find any software educational solution that compares to a book.


By Justin Case on 5/22/2007 1:09:02 AM , Rating: 3
Can you print all the books you need for your entire education, plus all the paper and pens you use, for $175? And that's ignoring the other things you can do with a computer (communication, programming, calculations, etc.).

You say you can't "find any educational software that compares to a book"...? Ever heard of eBooks? PDFs? Text files? Considerably cheaper to duplicate and carry around than thousands of printed sheets of paper. And since pretty much all books these days start their life that way, I'd say it "compares" pretty well to the physical object.


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