Jumat, 04 Januari 2008

Intel Turns Its Back on OLPC Project (NewsFactor)

Intel has pulled out of the One Laptop Per Child initiative to sell millions of low-cost laptops to developing nations. The chip giant cited disagreements with OLPCs founder, former MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal.

Reportedly, Intel and the OLPC have been bickering over Intels initiatives to sell its own low-cost laptop, the Classmate, in many of the same countries OLPC has targeted.

AMD provides the chips for the OLPC machines, but Intel appeared to be getting a piece of the action through an OLPC-designed laptop the Journal reported was to be announced at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Instead, according to the Journal, Intels representative quit the OLPC board and the hardware has been nixed.


Negroponte launched the OLPC nonprofit in 2005 to design, manufacture, and distribute laptops to every child in the world. The Linux-powered XO machines are engineered to withstand the harsh environmental conditions found in developing countries -- from the dust and heat of the Libyan desert to the daily downpours of the Brazilian rainforests.

Negropontes original goal was to get the device to as many as 150 million children by the end of 2008. The machine currently on the market costs more than the initial $100 target price and has not come close to the OLPCs sales goals.

In September, OLPC made a move to kick-start its momentum with a program called "Give 1, Get 1" designed to persuade individuals from the United States and Canada to support the OLPC and its work by paying for two XO laptop computers -- one to give, one to get.

That program reportedly has done well and was extended beyond its initial two-week run to the end of December 2007.


"Weve reached a philosophical impasse with OLPC," Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy told the Journal. Negroponte, he claimed, demanded that Intel stop selling the Classmate in developing countries. He also said that Negroponte demanded that Intel stop supplying its chips to other laptops marketed to schoolchildren in those countries.

Mulloy told the Journal that Intel could not accommodate that request because Intel favors offering "many solutions" to developing nations. Nixing the Classmate would harm Intels relationships with overseas manufacturers and suppliers, Mulloy told the Journal.

Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates and a former IDC analyst, said he is not surprised Intel is pulling the plug on its participation in the OLPC program. Attempting to force Intel to stop selling its products and working with its suppliers, he said, was not a realistic demand.

Kay did not mince words about the Intel-OLPC breakup and about Negroponte in particular. "Hes a bit of a swashbuckling showman, but when it comes to understanding how to work with partners and run a business, hes completely clueless," Kay said. "You cant tell your partners how to do business, particularly if your partner happens to be Intel."

Negroponte could not immediately be reached for comment.

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