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Intel's Classmate and the OLPC XO notebook fight it out in the market place despite partnership

When the One Laptop per Child Foundation first proposed the $100 laptop aimed at developing nations, it wasn’t long before Intel came along with its own super low cost laptop aimed at the same demographic called the Classmate PC.

For a while, the OLPC XO laptop and the Classmate from Intel were bitter rivals. That rivalry ended when the OLPC allowed Intel to sit on its board of directors and Intel invested cash into the project. What seems strange is that while Intel and the OLPC Foundation are now partners to some extent, the XO and Classmate laptops still fight it out in the marketplace.

BBC News reported recently that Uruguay purchased 100,000 XO Laptops and optioned an additional 300,000 XO laptops.  Many wondered if the production delays for the XO laptop would make it possible for the OLPC Foundation to fill the 100,000 XO order for Uruguay.

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Libya had purchased 150,000 of Intel’s Classmate notebooks powered by Microsoft Windows. Just a few weeks ago Libya had agreed to buy one million XO Laptops for the OLPC Foundation meaning in the closing hours of the XO deal Intel managed to steal the show.

Intel declined to comment on the price of the Classmate notebooks purchased by Libya, but did say it had not subsidized the cost of the machines. The Classmate notebook was first said to be priced at $250.

Reuters also reported that Libya has agreed to purchase the Classmate notebook rather than the XO laptop.

It remains to be seen if the new ASUS Eee PC notebook can also compete in this worldwide market for ultra-low cost notebook computers. ASUS promised versions of the Eee PC at $199 retail, even though the first units to hit the market here in the U.S. are priced at a much higher $399.




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