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Why Intel and OLPC Parted Ways 393

Posted by Zonk
from the so-the-drama dept.
runamock writes "The New York Times has an article that sheds some light on why Intel left the OLPC board: 'A frail partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group was undone last month in part by an Intel saleswoman: She tried to persuade a Peruvian official to drop the country's commitment to buy a quarter-million of the organization's laptops in favor of Intel PCs. Intel and the group had a rocky relationship from the start in their short-lived effort to get inexpensive laptops into the hands of the world's poorest children. But the saleswoman's tactic was the final straw for Nicholas Negroponte.'"
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Why Intel and OLPC Parted Ways

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  • Intel just sucks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aurispector (530273) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:23AM (#21931546)
    If not for AMD, Intel would be the M$ of the processor market. Although I fully understand the benefits of a free market, etc., Intel's behavior regarding the OLPC is reprehensible. Instead of offering cut-rate chips to support the project and potentially gain goodwill and new loyal customers worldwide they took the low road.

    Shame.
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:30AM (#21931578)

    Intel Quits Effort to Get Computers to Children
    Um... that sounds a bit spun doesn't it? Intel still sells the Classmate PC, and in the Peruvian case, the Intel machines it's trying to sell will still go to the same target audience as the OLPC units, it's not like they suddenly hate kids!

    Now regardless of who's making the machines and what OS, CPU blah blah they have in them, it's good that this device class actually exists and it's great that more people around the world get a chance to use devices that we take forgranted. OLPC and the Classmate are both doing a good job, and I'd love to see other devices like the EEE PC tailored towards developing nations in the near future.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:39AM (#21931632)

    Um... that sounds a bit spun doesn't it? Intel still sells the Classmate PC, and in the Peruvian case, the Intel machines it's trying to sell will still go to the same target audience as the OLPC units, it's not like they suddenly hate kids!
    I don't think it is spun at all.

    Intel wants to sell PC's. They don't care who gets them. For Intel all the feelgood stuff is just a means to an end.

    OLPC doesn't care about selling PC's. ALL they care about is who gets them. For OLPC all the business stuff is just a means to an end.
  • by AetherBurner (670629) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:48AM (#21931680)
    I have to agree with the above poster. Intel is raking in $$$$$$ on their products and a little benevolence toward the groups that the OLPC is aimed for won't kill their bottom line one bit. Huzzah to Mr. Negroponte for sticking to his philosophy and not rolling over in the name of $$$. There are many for-profit companies that can use this as a valuable lesson in philanthropy. One problem is that there are so few people out there like Mr. Negroponte in the business world. One thing that my mum keeps telling me is that $DEITY keeps track of things like this. Long Live OLPC and benevolence.

    -- Aetherburner
            "In the company of wind, dust achieves great heights. In the company of rain, it's mud."
  • by MrCopilot (871878) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:49AM (#21931684) Homepage Journal
    I just wrote up an article on this story yesterday.

    Expect to hear all the usual "Intel is a business" bullsh*t that always comes up.

    What has to be remembered is that Google is a business, Red Hat is a business, News Corp is a business too, and yet none of them actively tried to sabotage the OLPC foundation they had contracted to be a part of. Somehow they can justify their participation to the stockholders, but Intel can't? Intel was acting competitively before they joined the OLPC foundation in July of last year. After that time they continued to do so, only now they had access to a lot more information about XO potential buyers. Their behavior was despicable and only further enforces my decision long ago to buy AMD processors exclusively.

    Adding insult to injury, Intel holds a press conference call announcing the decision to split, without informing the OLPC board. Read through the stories from last Thursday. The olpc foundation had no response because they were shocked.

    They recovered nicely in my view with this official response. http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Intel#INTEL_RESIGNS_FROM_OLPC [laptop.org]

    I hope Negroponte & company sues for breach of contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:51AM (#21931692)
    > If not for AMD, Intel would be the M$ of the processor market.

    Isn't that just some Godwin variant? [wikipedia.org]

    AMD, Apple, IBM, Intel... these are just companies trying to outsmart the competition. You don't seriously think the Intel board sat down and said, "hey let's maliciously fuck-over the OLPC project"? That would take a special brand of evil, the kind that is only occurs naturally in Redmond.
  • by Laxator2 (973549) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:52AM (#21931694)
    The question is, why did Intel join the project to begin with ? It was obvious from the beginning that the only reason was to sabotage the project.

    Just like M$'s OOXML, which has only one purpose, of derailing ODF.
  • Fiduciary duty. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:55AM (#21931708)
    "...a lot of people fail to see one important issue. Intel is a for-profit corporation beholden to its stock holders..."

    Nah, they signed on to the board of directors of their own free will, and that comes with fiduciary duties.
    If you can't execute your duties under an agreement, don't sign on to it. Period.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:55AM (#21931710)
    Stating that stockholders are selfish is not realy a good reason not to hate them.
  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:57AM (#21931722) Homepage Journal
    Very true, but it's an excuse.
    As a stockholder you are never asked about whether you want your corporation to behave well.
    As a stockholder you are given an annual meeting, with buffet and speeches and an opposition which seldom raises questions like: why does this bank finances this oppressive regime? why does this corporation infiltrate and boycott this humanitarian program? To make me earn more? If I want to earn more no matter the ethics, I'd be a criminal. Especially in the criminal's paradise Italy has become.
  • by metamechanical (545566) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:57AM (#21931724)
    Which is fine. I encourage Intel to keep seeking out revenue. That doesn't excuse them from attempting back-door deals that go against contracts that they have made. If Intel had never signed up to assist OLPC, trying to get a piece of the market would not only make sense, but it would be commendable (as any form of competition would increase consumer choice, and thereby most likely drive down prices and force innovation). If one sleezy sales person (sorry for the redundancy there) decides that their commission is more important than one of their company's contracts, that's another thing. I don't think practicing dishonest business is excusable.

    At least Intel had the decency to void their contract, instead of just continuing not to honor it.
  • by mangu (126918) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:01AM (#21931750)

    Good will does not increase the bottom line of their stock portfolio or give them a fat dividend check.

    Yes, but lowering costs does improve the bottom line. How much of the Classmate's cost is software? Remember, Microsoft isn't a charity either. Intel has no reason to help Microsoft, they could make an Intel computer at a lower cost with 100% free software in it.


    Besides the cost of software itself, no matter if it's $3 or $300, Linux runs on lower hardware specs than Microsoft products. The XO needs extra memory to run a version of MS-Windows, which means still more cost.

  • Re:The poorest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Znork (31774) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:15AM (#21931834)
    "Give them to the second poorest."

    Yep, that's the ones the OLPC project is aimed at. IIRC, part of the idea was to replace cost of educational material, so paying for the OLPC would basically be cheaper than buying books for the students (over a period of several years).
  • Re:The poorest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwilliamson (672411) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:22AM (#21931896) Homepage Journal
    >You can't eat a laptop.

    I really hate it when people attack those who choose to cure the underlying disease instead of the immediate symptoms.

    The goal here is to allow these groups of people to become self sufficient, so that they can eat the results of their own agricultural endeavors. Education is the _only_ way to raise a country out of poverty as handouts only prolong an existing fundamental flaw. Necroponte strikes at the root of poverty with tools and information, and it is this information that can overcome not only hunger, but greed and corruption as well. This is a long-term solution as these are the sorts of problems that may take a generation to fix, but if someone doesn't break the cycle all the aid in the world will only amount to a stopgap measure and a people totally dependent on aid for their survival. OLPC is a very noble means to a end.

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:25AM (#21931918)
    >Intel is not a charity.

    So? Any company or wealthy person for that matter will lose x amount of his/her income to the government in taxes if that money/product is not given to charity. This gives everyone of means and every company a HUGE incentive to act charitable. Hell, lots of companies use this to get rid off products that are market failures and that would actually cost them money to dispose of properly! There's no excuse to not acting charitable towards non-profits in America. None.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:27AM (#21931932) Homepage
    Actually, it's not. There are still quite a few businesses that exist to benefit others. OLPC is not about making a profit... it's a non-profit organization!

    Part of the OLPC, whether spoken directly or not, is that old "give a man a fish and he eats for the day, teach a man to fish and he eats for the rest of his life." There are plenty of charities and organizations built around the notion of "feed the children." I'd like to say "those bases are covered" but perhaps not as well as people would like. (You'll find their local governments are often the ones getting in the way of the 'feed the children' successes... some for good reason, some not.)

    But as long as these 3rd world nations do not grow intellectually, they will remain the starving, dependent children of world.

    If OLPC was intending to make a profit, there were many decisions that could have been made along the way that would have reflected that end. They made decisions and continue to make decisions based on their mission -- a charitable one. It's okay you choose not to believe in it. It's often hard to believe in something that's not profit oriented these days.
  • by just_forget_it (947275) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:31AM (#21931964)
    This is exactly what Microsoft did to IBM during the OS/2 Warp project. Still, I think Intel has hit a new low with this one. Sabotage between two for-profit companies is one thing, but a for-profit company pulling this on a non-profit org is beyond despicable. It's like if a construction company and Habitat for Humanity were working together on a project and came up with some really good design ideas, then the construction company, half-way through construction, takes every scrap of material and blueprints away from the job site and uses them to build houses for paying customers.
  • by Cerebus (10185) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:38AM (#21932022) Homepage
    Most corporations have a "public interest" clause in their corporate charters. This is required by the State so the public derives some benefit in exchange for the indemnification of owners from corporate liabilities. Technically speaking, a corporation that fails to act in the public interest *as well as* the interests of the owners (which should often be one and the same) should have its charter revoked.

    Unfortunately, State Attorneys General have forgotten this.
  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:49AM (#21932088)
    I hear this "give food" talk a lot.

    When you dump a lot of food into a depressed region, the farmers in that region can't sell a damn thing. They are driven out of their livelihood, further depressing the region.

    Giving food keeps people in poverty. If you want to help.... give education. Give a cow. Give seeds. Give time and effort.

    Dumping food on the poor doesn't help anyone.

    -T
  • Criticism of Intel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Morosoph (693565) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:09AM (#21932210) Homepage Journal

    Good will does not increase the bottom line of their stock portfolio or give them a fat dividend check.
    So because they're acting in the way that one would expect, we shouldn't criticise them because it would generate undeserved ill-will?

    Quite apart from being wrong (it's going to have some effect, for some slashdotters will be favouring AMD when all other things are near enough equal), your position is a little odd. Intel deserve criticism if they're doing wrong by the critic. Aren't all actors meant to be working in their own interests? Well, for some of us, our interests include the success of projects such as the OLPC. If you believe that "interest" necessarily means self-interest, you haven't studied your economics throughly. Supply and demand doesn't care about the cause of the motive, just its existance.

  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:14AM (#21932242) Homepage
    You don't seriously think the Intel board sat down and said, "hey let's maliciously fuck-over the OLPC project"?

    Your comment might have been intended as humor, but it's currently marked "insightful" so I'm responding to it on that basis (if not for your sake than for the sake of anyone who does think it's insightful).

    Aside from the specific choice of language, you really think it's far fetched? If so, then let me spell it out for you: YES, Intel could well have had meetings where they explicitly planned to do things in breach of either the word or spirit of their arrangements with OLPC, aka "maliciously fucking over" their partner. Intel is a for-profit American corporation. Not even outright breaches of contract are off-limits for corporations; they'll do it every time they think it will make them more money than holding to a contract would.

    It is far more plausible that Intel planned this all the way up the ladder than that this one salesperson just decided to be a maverick and try to subvert things without any approval from management.

    I'd hate to think you're more comfortable hiding behind the posture that technically, nobody at any Intel meetings used the specific words "maliciously fuck-over".

  • by civilizedINTENSITY (45686) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:14AM (#21932244)
    Paraphrase: "Everyone and everything is just the same. You'd be just as bad if you had the chance. The only reason you're not a criminal too is that you don't have what it takes to be evil."

    The fact is that not all people, and not all companies, are willing to do anything (and everything), regardless of law and morality, in order crush their competition. What you are suggesting, really, is "why single out individuals who act badly". What this means is that acting badly should be the status que. No.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:20AM (#21932272) Homepage
    We have seen where for-profit business opposes people doing for free what they themselves would not do even for profit. Municipal WiFi is a classic and well-known example of this. These companies are not interested in building a WiFi infrastructure in a city because the profits would be to low or the initial investment too high for this to be attractive to them. And yet they will stop at nothing to prevent a city from taking the initiative upon itself to service its citizens.

    In lesser-known areas, where state utilities commissions have allowed utilities providers (power and communications) to not develop a region, smaller, independent groups and coops have opted to fill in the need for their own profit and non-profit interests only to face opposition from the very utilities providers that refuse to service the areas themselves.

    "The Electric Car" has been stopped and stalled many times by the opposition of big auto makers time and time again.

    There are probably many other examples of established big business opposing small business in doing things that they themselves are unwilling or uninterested in doing... any come to mind? An under our "free market capitalist idealism" it's rather hard to imagine why big business would even care? It's because big business isn't interested in "free market capitalism." They want no competition of any kind and they want to charge as much money as they possibly can for their goods and services as possible.

    These are really good examples of what big business is truly about. Every time you hear an argument about "free markets" being wielded by big business, I hope you consider what big business is truly all about.

    (For example, the free market argument was given by Enron as the reason to remove or reduce government controls over the power industry and following that, every single state that allowed it suffered from ridiculously high power costs and even power shortages and irregularities in quality and delivery. The free market doesn't work EVERYWHERE and isn't the answer to EVERYTHING. And it certainly doesn't apply when there are human _needs_ at the consumer side of the counter. Utilities, food and medical care need heavy regulation to keep the nations of the world healthy and it's precisely the lack of strong enough regulation of the US medical industry is in the 'unaffordable' state it's in and before someone points to the US medical system as being the most advanced in the world, I hold it has nothing to do with the lack of regulation or the possibility of higher profits and everything to do with their exploitation of research done in public learning institutions... research not available to the public itself.)
  • by alegrepublic (83799) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:20AM (#21932280)

    Intel wants to sell PC's.
    There lies the problem. Intel should restrain from selling PC's and focus on selling chips. They are abusing their prominent position in the chip market to get an unfair advantage in other markets. They have learned too much from their unnamed software partner.
  • by WGR (32993) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:48AM (#21932460) Journal

    One problem is that there are so few people out there like Mr. Negroponte in the business world

    In my experience, there are tons of people in the business world like Mr. Negroponte. We don't hear about them for two reasons. First, they tend to be small business owners. Second, they tend not to do heinous things. The news goes for interesting stories, which excludes the small fry doing something nice for someone else.

    There is a third reason. They don't stay in business very long.

    Business is not based on good or evil but profit and loss. One should never expect business to do anything but maximize its profits. To control byuiness, one needs laws that make it profitable to do good and unprofitable to do evil. That means costs for business should include the externalities, such as production of greenhouse gases, now subsidized by government.

  • by aurispector (530273) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:50AM (#21932482)
    Single out Intel? It's the topic of the article? Besides, they didn't have to do what they did/are doing.

    Intel didn't sit down and say "let's screw over OLPC", they said "hey, we could lose money here". Companies will abuse monopolies, but Intel doesn't have a monopoly-that's the point; they did what a monopoly WOULD do. What M$ does isn't a special brand of evil, it's merely a particulary voracious approach toward getting and maintaining market share. See the similarities here? Before AMD became a force, Intel did exhibit some very M$ like behavior.

    Intel missed an opportunity. If they got their chips into the OLPC, they could have turned it into a huge PR campaign and gained name recognition in vast areas of the world that have no idea who they are. Besides, OLPC is a nonprofit deliberately trying to bring low cost computing to areas of the world that have little or no access to the current market. Why didn't they have a Classmate program BEFORE OLPC existed?

    Shame.
  • by ThreeGigs (239452) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @12:02PM (#21932554)
    Yes, they're a norma corporation. With a moral, legal and ethical responsibility to make money for their stockholders.

    And Negroponte apparently believes, from everything I've read, that he and the OLPC deserve a monopoly on low cost laptops for por countries.

    Also, from everything I've read, the *supposed* purpose of the OLPC project is to get as many laptops into the hands of children everywhere.

    Intel appears to be doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing.
    Negroponte, however, appears to be trying to limit consumer choices and stifle competition.

    Let me repeat that:
    Neroponte appears to be trying to limit consumer choices and stifle competition.

    Every other company that has tried to do that has earned my disdain, and from past reading, the disdain of a majority of Slashdotters, as noted by the Bill Gates 'Borg' graphic.

    Negroponte seems to have become sidetracked from the original goal. In fact, I'd wager that if asked what percentage of kids in 3rd world contries have computer access now, as compared to a year ago, he wouldn't know.

    Sorry for the flamebait folks, but my opinion of OLPC 'management' has sunk.
  • by DustCollector (903185) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @12:12PM (#21932650) Homepage
    >>Intel is a for-profit corporation beholden to its stock holders...

    A lesson here... whenever you read or hear this, please realize that corporations hide behind this phrase whenever they do something unethical, stupid, or borderline illegal. Corporations also have a duty to their customers, employees, the product or service they sell, and to the government with regard to taxes. Shareholders are not, and cannot be, foremost on their minds.
  • by JamesTRexx (675890) <m.nystromNO@SPAMmbitz.nl> on Sunday January 06, 2008 @12:50PM (#21932918) Homepage Journal
    As a stockholder, I'm happy that they are trying to earn money for me.

    I hope you sleep well on your pile of blood money.
  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:08PM (#21933094) Homepage Journal
    Your analysis makes sense for a shortsigted company focused on immediate earnings, or a sales person acting alone focusing on this months numbers.

    IMO, Intel could have easily sold charitable OLPC involvement as a long term investment. Intel already has a commendable position in the PC market. If they want to continue to grow their revenues, one way to do that is to...

    grow the size of the market.

    and a _Great_ way to do that is to introduce children to computers from a very early age.

    The OLPC isn't the only computer a child ever uses in their entire life. It's the first computer a child uses, and it shows them the big wide world out there.. and opens their mind to possibilities.

    Insert the usual bit about "the first hit is free". _some_ chip maker ought to have been making a strategic investment to make sure that OLPC goes off without a hitch, so that in 10-20 years, there's huge new groups demanding computing power, and intel, amd, apple, or whomever, will be there with all these anxious new customers.

    Actually, Intel and AMD should have done some market collusion to help OLPC happen so that neither would feel they were unfairly funding future market growth that the other would steal without maximal investment recoup. A larger market for processors helps both companies.
  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:16PM (#21933174) Homepage Journal

    Neroponte appears to be trying to limit consumer choices and stifle competition.
    Before him, they had nothing.
    He made them an offer, and now Intel piggybacks on his effort and tries to weasel a deal to have more expensive machine, meaning that fewer children will get access to an educational machine (but hey, Intel gets to make more millions in profit, which is what really matters, huh?).

    And all you can do is rehash free market dogma to support the people who are undermining a non profit charity effort in order to divert the money involved to their own greedy pockets.
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:25PM (#21933232)
    Negroponte believes that Intel does it just because they are afraid of competition. They actually DON'T compete, because Classmate PC is horrid afterthought, without any intelectual and engineer input, just thrown together box and just because OLPC has AMD! They are different classes, OLPC has been tested and engineered to survive harsh situations, Classmate PC is just a small laptop without any moving parts, but nothing else.

    Negroponte can forbid Intel sell their boxes? No! Can Negroponte ask for them to actually deliver what they promised? Yes! Intel promised to streamline OLPC and Classmate PC, create OLPC XO-2 with Intel tech, not try to block OLPC sales for now, and lot of other things which they actually NOT delivered. Instead of that, sales person from Intel slammed OLPC behind the back of OLPC to OLPC customer, while being on board of OLPC!

    I just wander who "capitalist dreamer" mod you up. Because you actually have NO clue what you are talking about. Check facts please before be so very elitist about corporations.
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:32PM (#21933286)
    Bullshit.

    There are lot of companies, which actually kinda see huge connection between doing good and getting profit. If it wasn't so, there won't be PR, there won't be ads, there won't be customer psyhology courses, Bs for different marketing types, etc. It is all connected and it comes back.

    Problem is different. It is not ethical versus material. It is long term versus short term. It pays back to be good in long term, for sure. But in short term, sometimes it doesn't.

    And it all boils down to "stupid" human survival instinct - it wants all now, it wants very strong guarantee now. Not tomorrow, not even after one hour. If human just acts, not thinks, it will choose short term survival as it's primary goal.

    p.s. "stupid" in brackets means - I don't know how to solve it, it's natural and if people live like that, who am I to judge.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:41PM (#21933368)
    His problem is that Intel salesmen are comparing the OLPC to the Classmate.

    It's not that Intel was being dishonest or anything in its marketing. It's just that they're selling an inexpensive, yet complete, full-fledged laptop, and they're honestly and accurately pointing out to potential customers that it can do many things the OLPC can't do.

    He doesn't care that the people shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars in education budgets might actually, rationally prefer the Classmate. He doesn't refute the claim that the Classmate has superior capabilities. His only concern seems to be that Classmate sales might cut into OLPC orders.

    I can only assume that if a for-profit company came out with something that did everything the OLPC did, but better, and they sold it at a lower price, he would object to that too.

    "It's a little bit like McDonald's competing with the World Food Program." - Can you imagine the World Food Program objecting to McDonald's offering to sell food to people who might otherwise accept food aid?

    That is the difference between the World Food Program and the OLPC project. The World Food Program is about distributing free food to people who can't get other food. It isn't threatened by free-market food suppliers. If people can buy their own good food, the people at the World Food Program are happy about that, because then the WFP can distribute their free food to other needy people.

    But at the OLPC project, they charge for their laptops. So they see private-sector suppliers as competition for funding.

    There is something horribly wrong with a supposed charity project that is threatened by people satisfying their needs by other means. It's not a charity anymore, it's a competitive entity, and it has the potential to be as selfishly destructive as any for-profit corporation.

    We've got to stop taking Negroponte seriously when he waves the, "But we're only doing it to help poor children! How can anyone object to that?!" flag. His organization is trying to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from the poorest countries in the world, and it hasn't even come close to proving that the money would be well-spent. Buying OLPC, buying into this experimental high-tech approach to education which has never succeeded anywhere ever, would be a hugely expensive risk for people who really can't afford to fail.

    What is really the difference between "we're charging for our product, but we don't intend to make a profit" and "we're charging for our product, but we're failing to make a profit"? I would discourage you from looking at a non-profit, price-charging company as morally superior to a merely unprofitable for-profit company. The OLPC is a cash-hungry competitive entity.
  • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:45PM (#21933400)

    And Negroponte apparently believes, from everything I've read, that he and the OLPC deserve a monopoly on low cost laptops for por countries.

    No, I suspect Negroponte believes that business partners shouldn't screw each other. If Intel is pitching their own designed/developed notebook, particularly trying to get countries to renege on commitments to OLPC, that would constitute "screwing".

    This is not to say that there couldn't be OLPC competitors that use Intel chips, just not ones that an OLPC partner designs, markets, and sells. If Red Hat decided to make an OLPC-killer, he'd probably be pissed at them, too.

    Negroponte, however, appears to be trying to limit consumer choices and stifle competition.

    Only to the extent such choices/competition are coming direct from OLPC partners. I haven't seen where he's laid into Asus for their Eee PC, even though it would have to be at least considered as a possible OLPC replacement (greater power in exchange for being less rugged, shorter battery life, probably more expensive, etc.).

    Negroponte seems to have become sidetracked from the original goal.

    And you have determined this...how, exactly? Just because he's not interested in partners who cheat on him?

  • by kenh (9056) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:55PM (#21933462) Homepage Journal

    Neroponte appears to be trying to limit consumer choices and stifle competition.

    Exactly.

    No one else can sell laptops to third-world countries except OLPC. Intel has a more expensive and more feature-full laptop, and OLPC is afraid third-world countries might be lured into buying something like, you know, the kids in the developed world have access to - Windows and Mac PCs. Id the OLPC is the best for them, the third-world countries will buy them, if not, they'll buy what is - not what Mr. Negroponte has decided they need/want/deserve.
  • by Locutus (9039) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @02:50PM (#21933884)
    did you read the article? She was asked to bid on a SECONDARY school laptop contract but the Intel salesperson returned with a bid and aggression for the PRIMARY school deal which was already a done deal. She didn't even address the contract/bid she was asked to bid on.

    To me, this stinks of some kind of commission for beating the XO project and not a standard commission on Classmate PC sales. After all, why would she give up bidding on a contract the Classmate PC was better suited for and instead, go after the XO deal? The devices are not the same if you look at the software and hardware spec's. She most likely was going after some big buck commission designed to end XO contracts. Hmmm, going after a competitors throat, killing the baby, cutting off their air supply? Remind you of somebody?

    LoB
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @03:09PM (#21934072)

    Within Intel, one part (the OLPC liaison) is pro OLPC, seeing it as a growth opportunity, while another (the field sales organization) is anti OLPC because it eats up into their potential sales. I am sure they never talked to each other. Even if they did, corporate politics and turf wars may have ensued, with sales winning this round.

    This is entirely possible, but it doesn't much matter. Intel acted in bad faith and put immediate profits and hurting AMD above children's welfare. Whether some people Intel felt one way and some felt another (as I'm sure they did), Intel as an organization took action and are responsible for that.

    When Negroponte made this public, it was embarrassing to Intel, and eventually the money balance tipped the scale and they withdrew from the OLPC.

    More likely when they realized they were going to be forcibly expelled from a PR friendly nonprofit for unethically trying to undermine it, they decided to pull out first and try to minimize the fallout. Whatever the politics internal to Intel, it would behoove all of us to raise as big of a stink about this as possible. The more it hurts, the more likely Intel is to put in place policies to stop it from happening in the future... which should be the goal of society as a whole IMHO.

  • by innerweb (721995) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @03:36PM (#21934300)

    Ok, I'll bite. Which catastrophe? I have worked with people of many races. I have learned a few things that hold true no matter the race. Some are basically good hard working people some are not. Children have a lot in common with their parents, but are not restricted or guaranteed to be like their parents (though all are always influenced by their parents in subtle ways). Intelligent children tend to have intelligent parents, and over a few generations of good, solid educational and family values, any group I have been around has been able to catch up with the other groups around it.

    Living in California, I dealt with Hispanics from Mexico, Venezuela, Spain and other Spanish countries. I met some who were very successful, some who were very smart, some who were very talented, some who were gifted leaders... I also met many Caucasians who were complete failures, total idiots, could blow soda out their nose, dealt drugs... Same with the blacks, asians etc. Race had very little to do with it. But, most of them were raised in this country in our public school systems. I did note that the asians and the Spaniards I knew tended to be very strict about doing well in school, and being diligent in life. I did notice that most of the white and black families I knew were much more into sports than academics or business pursuits. I did notice that the gangs were a rainbow of races and they all seemed to have the same relative intelligence, much less than others of their same races whose families were more educated at first, spent more time with their children and pushed more at an education, work and legal business. There were exceptions. Another problem is that IQ tests rarely takes into account street smarts, though that also is a form of intelligence that is very important in this world

    So, color me clueless, but not only do I not see what you are describing from my own personal experiences with people from these other countries, but I saw absolutely nothing in the references you gave to give one ounce of weight to what you are claiming. And those are some very big claims.

    I do agree that poverty and lower intelligence tend to go hand in hand (but the cycle can be broken and has been broken by individuals). I know of no evidence anywhere in the real scientific community that even hints at this much disparity in racial genetic characteristics. This is a hobby of mine. I spend more time reading up on the research in the genetics and neurology areas than everything else put together. I am aware of no credible research. Please point me in the right direction. This is something I have obviously missed, and I need to study it to get a better grasp of what is really happening. Seriously, please point me at these studies. I do want to read them.

    InnerWeb

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @03:59PM (#21934480)
    You can thank Craig Barret for this mess. When OLPC got started, Barret said he doesn't want to get into this kind of market. OLPC is like a gadget and no one care for gadgets. It's not until OLPC showed signs of possible shipping in volumes that Intel got into the game.

    I agree with you, it's a shame.
  • Re:truth be told (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bluto00 (944098) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @04:19PM (#21934614)
    The Economist is right on. I am dumbfounded by the amount of simplistic and condescending reasoning used to support OLPC. I lived in West Africa for 1 1/2 years. I learned that Africans don't want our technology dumbed-down, even if you dress it up as "charity" (How dare they!). They want real computers, so they can innovate the same way we do.

    If we were serious about helping Africans, we would be looking far past manufacturing crappy computers to sell to their governments. Of course the fact that we aren't is no great loss to Africans. We may not get it, but the Indians and Chinese do.
  • Astro-Turf (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PenGun (794213) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @04:38PM (#21934812) Homepage
    The amount of AC intel shills is impressive.

      Of limited use here really, if you were not ACs you might know why.
  • "fsck" Intel.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tech10171968 (955149) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @05:22PM (#21935184)
    "Intel is a business" has absolutely nothing to do with this. If I were to volunteer my time and services to a church program to help feed the homeless, but then actively stole food from the program then I would not be surprised to find a group of angry people at my doorstep brandishing torches and pitchforks. Intel has just done the same thing and I see some folks here actually defending these fools! I used to think there was a special place in Hell reserved just for Microsoft thanks to the usually less-than-ethical business tactics they love to employ; but now it looks as if Intel wants a piece of that eternal real estate for themselves as well.
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @05:23PM (#21935194)

    A horrid afterthought? The Classmate is a miniature, ruggedized, low-price conventional laptop with some special features for parental and teacher control. The XO is an underpowered, overdesigned computing gadget that's full of bugs because they reinvented the wheel and incompatible with basically everything.
    Real life experience with both of boxes - not mine, but mine friends, who are experienced IT geeks as me - actually indicates totally different situation. Almost every person, geek or children, prise XO software as innovative. Maybe you don't get it that people don't need to know particular OS, they need how to logically think with computer. Of course, I understand, there are enormous fear between software companies that it could mean end of golden days and guaranteed income. But I see it as natural evolution and nor software, nor hardware companies can control that. XO features - tickless kernel, screen you can see in sunlight, low memory footprint, specially tested and designed software which are open to modify and extend via such standardised language as Python - are unique even between Linux distributions and releases, let's not talk about mainstream OS like Windows XP/Vista or OS X. Yes, of course it has bugs, but show which laptop doesn't have them during testing and manufacturing period. And nevermind that Redhat engineers in corporation with hardware vendors works all the time to improve this product and they are not tied to some company who wants profit as soon as possible, therefore their chief is quality of work.

    good intentions != better result more design effort != better product
    You say this because...? Good intentions not always lead to better result, and more design effort doesn't always end in better product, for sure. But this doesn't seem to be a case, in fact, OLPC was slammed that they actually didn't release earlier just because they wanted to be sure that it is good in first row. Main concepts of XO seems to be working, now they have to create know how for using and maintaining it. And I have no doubt they will.

    Negroponte has a weirdo idea that if you give poor kids laptops with internet access, they'll just automatically learn a lot, rather than dick around and be distracted from their studies and chores. This hasn't been demonstrated, nor does it seem especially plausible since one-laptop-per-student has been tried in western schools and found basically useless, it's just an idea he really likes. He wants third-world governments to pump billions of dollars from their meagre education budgets into a mass experiment along these lines on their children.
    Can I call you a ignorant? I wanted to add a "bastard", but it will be too much for a troll like you. First, you say that all tried and failed before. Well, their problem. Someone has to fail, before other comes in, analyses all faults previously done, and try to do it differently. And OLPC seems to try to do that differently. Everything they do seems to be kinda logical to me. Please read more analysis about pilot projects in different places in the world before talk about it. Also I want to note that if such projects have failed in west schools doesn't mean nothing at all - for me, western schools are too spoiled and their attitude to learning damaged, so computers simply don't give anything to us. When people have to survive in harsh conditions, computer is a tool, not entertainment, like lot of people thinks they are.

    Sure, it might be a waste of money, and the kids might not actually learn as much as if that money was spent on books and teachers, but hey, it's a risk he's willing to take! (after all, he won't be suffering any of the consequences)
    Nevermind that he have been academic and teacher itself for most of his life and knows what makes kid/pupil to learn something. But hey, it is easier to plaster him a arrogant, socialist, etc. than actually criticise him objectively, right? Specially when you have not so much against him.
    It is so sad that you posted this anonymously. But you actually understood that you posting rubbish, didn't you?
  • by hughk (248126) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @05:44PM (#21935376) Journal

    "The Economist" had some tough words for OLPC and Negroponte last week:

    The Economist is a very good source of information about politics and economics, and yes, I have met people that write for it. On IT, frankly, it does tend to suck. I still read it because the CIO/CTO of a company is more likely to get their information from The Economist than somewhere useful.

    The fact is that it seems that kids find these devices fairly intuitive. I would agree that perhaps teachers are missing out on how to integrate it with their curriculum, but sorry the government bureaucrat is the purse-holder but not the ultimate customer. Actually the OLPC is less about being a computer and more about propagating information. Some people are uncomfortable with that. The system it runs is criticised for not being Windows, but then what do they need Windows for? Are we training MSCEs or people who can write a few letters and do a budget and look up corn prices. Most of the competition at the low end isn't running Windows either. Lets forget about the software and look at the hardware. There are a lot of tough PCs around but they start around $2K. I've been to Africa. Yes, there are pristine classrooms but often they are like the towns they are in, sometimes dry and sometimes humid and sometimes without proper walls so the sunlight readable display is also useful.

  • by Scrameustache (459504) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:00PM (#21935506) Homepage Journal

    aren't you effectively saying that these third world countries are somewhat at fault because they have the temerity to actually *want* (desire, demand), a more powerful computer that more closely conforms to the de-facto MS/x86 standard?
    No, I'm saying you are the apologist of greedy bastards who are actively spending large quantities of money to convince the decision makers of these nations that they should make wintel products the defacto monopoly in their country.

    Not everyone's needs are met by the cheapest product, which is why Mercedes has market share (to use another car analogy).
    And this is the part where I call you names: You fucking asshole, this is a project to meet the educational needs of those less fortunate, not a fucking luxury, you capitalist pig-dog. They are trying to sell (through unethical, contract-breaching means) a downgraded business laptop to people who need a custom-designed low-power, all-terrain information-processing machine.

    Those kids are not a market, this non-profit enterprise is not a business rival. If they want to sell their power-hungry laptop with their fancy CPUs, they can sell them to the kids when they grow up with computer skills and outgrow their XO, but paying a fee to get on the board of a charity (a tax-exempting fee, I'm sure) and then telling governments that being on the board has let them glean information that make them think the whole thing is going to implode (possibly with the ring of truth that knowingly sabotaging them brings) is indefensible, you monster.
  • by gnuman99 (746007) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:46PM (#21935930)
    Windows environment is much more expensive to use than Linux based environment. There is no question about about. For examples, look at Debian. 18733 software packages. Enough said right there.
  • by hey! (33014) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:12AM (#21941552) Homepage Journal

    The fact is that not all people, and not all companies, are willing to do anything (and everything), regardless of law and morality, in order crush their competition.


    You've never been in a business meeting where an ethical issue has come up, have you?

    If it makes money, a strategy enjoys a strong presumption of innocence. The question is not, "is this wrong?", or even "is this probably not wrong?", but "can this be argued in any way to be not wrong." One of the clinching arguments is "everybody does it." You can't not do it if your competitors are doing it, unless you can come up with a better strategy for making money.

    Corporations are not people. They do not have a moral conscience. They do have an instinct for self preservation, and that means siezing advantage where they can get it. The only barrier to utterly amoral behavior is the consicences of the individuals within the corporation, but those people have conflicting responsiblities. They feel a duty of loyalty to their company which supports them and their coworkers. As such individuals are very weak moral firewalls against corporate transgressions.

    Corporate partnerships are not like you starting a business with a childhood friend. You'd feel really bad if you exploited that relationship to send your friend into bankruptcy. But this is not even seen as wrong in business, provided that the partner can't take more out of your hide for breaking the contract than you can make breaking it. Do you really think that corporations take acting in bad faith differently where they can't be make financially responsible just as seriously as when they can? There are three kinds of corporate partnerships that have any significance at all: partnerships where the members are merging; partnerships where there is a strong vendor/user relationship; partnerships where the parties are pursuing a particular sale. I've seen many "strategic partnerships" over the years, and the instant it is advantageous the companies have knives stuck into their partners' backs.

    Corporations, if they were actually people, would be evil. But they're not remotely like actual people, and they are neither evil, nor good. They have no conscience, nor do they need one. They are machines for generating profit, and respond only weakly to moral consideration that have not been monetized, and only through the consciences of individuals who are ethically conflicted.

    It is naive to expect corporations to respond to human concepts like decency, honor, or integrity, except to the degree those concepts have been translated into costs.

Thus spake the master programmer: "After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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