Friday, January 4, 2008

One Laptop Per Child & Intel Part Ways in Dispute

From The Times Online, Jan. 5: Laptop charity hits out as Intel leaves project after dispute

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of a charitable project to provide cheap laptop computers to developing countries, yesterday accused Intel of trying to profiteer from the world’s poorest children.

His comments came after the chip maker angrily abandoned the non-profit venture that is trying to bridge the technology divide between rich and developing countries by selling $100 (£50.60) computers to some of the world’s poorest youngsters.

Mr Negroponte said: “We . . . have been disappointed that Intel did not deliver on any of the promises they made. While we were hopeful for a positive, collaborative relationship, it never materialised. We view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market.”

This week, Intel said it has left the project, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The chip maker joined the project in June and has been at loggerheads with it ever since. Intel had wanted the laptops — called the XO — to contain its own more expensive microchips, rather than those of its rival Advanced Micro Devices. The two parties also rowed over Intel’s conduct when it launched its competing laptop — the Classmate — in countries that had signed up to Mr Negroponte’s computers. OLPC accuses Intel of “disparaging” the XO to boost Classmate sales.

Walter Bender, OLPC’s chief operating officer, said: “Intel wants Intel [products] in everything. But if we had used Intel Inside [chips] in the XO laptop, it would have cost more and been less robust. That would have achieved the exact opposite of what we have set out to do.”
He added: “We have wasted a lot of time and energy with Intel. It has been a huge distraction, trying to realign ourselves with this elephant in the room. We are now in a much stronger position without them.”

Three years ago, Mr Negroponte, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced that he aimed to devise a programme to supply cheap laptops to the world’s poorest children. He proposed to find a way to make laptops for $100 each and wanted to see 150 million school children with XO laptops by this year.

Mr Negroponte also sits on a committee to guard the editorial independence of Dow Jones, the media group acquired last year by News Corporation, parent company of The Times.
The XO has a web browser, a built-in camera and a word processor and is designed to last about five years. OLPC says it can withstand extreme temperatures and being dropped.
Intel says that if it abandoned selling its Classmate computers to countries such as Peru and Uruguay — a key demand of Mr Negroponte — it would harm relationships with its overseas manufacturers and suppliers.

Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman, was reported to have said that his company “had reached a philosophical impasse with OLPC”. Intel failed to return calls yesterday.

1 comment:

BrightEye said...

I am not surprised that intel was an obstacle.

Mr Negroponte's comments :inte
l sees the children as a market" is both telling and somewhat chilling. It might be more prudent in the long run to support these children - after all, as they become an intellectual and economic force to be reckoned with in the coming decade - they may remember the first PC they owned- and from whence it came.

 
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