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Education Hardware

Intel Laptop Competes With One Laptop Per Child 347

Tracy Reed writes "According to the BBC, Intel has designed and begun marketing it's own low-cost laptop targeted at education in developing countries. 'Professor Negroponte, who aims to distribute millions of laptops to kids in developing countries, said Intel had hurt his mission "enormously". Speaking to US broadcaster CBS, Intel's chairman denied the claims. "We're not trying to drive him out of business," said Craig Barrett. "We're trying to bring capability to young people." Mr Barrett has previously dismissed the $100 laptop as a "gadget".'"
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Intel Laptop Competes With One Laptop Per Child

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  • Jeebus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid&gmail,com> on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:38PM (#19212163) Homepage Journal
    Weren't there at least a dozen comments in the last OLPC story that pretty much debunked this idea that Intel's offering was in any way comparable to OLPC's? Oh wait, I forgot to look up and to the left...
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:39PM (#19212181) Homepage
    Isn't this a good thing? Isn't having many companies working towards the same objective, offering similar products, good for competition, and good for making things cheaper in the end? Maybe lots of competition could give us the $50 laptop. Having a monopoly in any business, even charity, or to help the poor, is necessary to ensure that costs are being kept to a minimum. How do we know that the $50 laptop isn't possible unless there's competition against the guy offering the $100 laptop.
  • Translation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andrewd18 ( 989408 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:41PM (#19212203)

    "We're not trying to drive him out of business," said Craig Barrett. "We're trying to bring capability to young people."
    Translation: "We're not trying to drive him out of business," said Craig Barrett. "That will just be a fortunate side-effect in our ongoing war against terrori-, uh, I mean, AMD. Oh, and, uh, I guess giving poor kids technology is a good thing too."
  • Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daishiman ( 698845 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:43PM (#19212227)
    AMD makes the processors for the OLPC. Never mind that Intel is undercutting the OLPC at a loss just to gain market share on what may be one the largest untapped markets for computers.
  • by Odiumjunkie ( 926074 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:44PM (#19212233) Journal
    Competition is one thing in a regular market, but the accusation is that Intel is using their marketplace power and financial reserves to undercut a not-for-profit to force them out of the market as part of their corporate rivalry with AMD, who supplied the CPUs for the OLPC machines. That's something different from healthy competition.
  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:45PM (#19212255) Journal
    This particular situation isn't about competition. Coopetition is needed. Intel is just mad they weren't invited to the party so they could get free press from the situation, so they are stepping in with their stupid fat fingers and gumming up the keyboard with their dripping transfat-laden corporate policies.

    There is ZERO market in providing cheap PCs to poor people. There is no profit beyond paying the bills of the company.

    Again, Intel is just trying to generate press, "Look at us! Look at how great we are! We are trying to help the poor!"

    Intel would be more advise to give money to the OLPC project so the per-system cost could be lowered. Team work is needed here, not competition.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oldsmobile ( 930596 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:46PM (#19212283) Journal
    Well, it IS four times as expensive, it hasn't been designed by a bunch of educators and it isn't running open source.

    I guess it's sort of like taking a school history curriculum, desgined by educators to teach kids and comparing that to learning about history by watching the History channel.

    Both will work towards the same goals, but are not equal or comparable.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:50PM (#19212339)
    What the Hell did Negroponte expect? Did he think Intel was just going to roll over the let their biggest competitor sell tens-of-millions of chips without offering their own alternative?
  • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:52PM (#19212369) Journal
    I think the problem is two-fold:

    1. If Intel were really interested in "trying to bring capability to young people" then why didn't they sign on with the OLPC project in the first place? By having Intel generate a separate project, resources are inherently divided. According to TFA, Intel originally laughed at the idea of OLPC. Now they are copying it. Why didn't they just agree to help OLPC?

    2. In TFA, Negroponte reportedly is accusing Intel of selling their Classmate PC below production cost. Such a tactic is used, of course, to driver others out of the market, so as to establish monopoly. If OLPC and Intel both try to sell their laptops to various countries, and the Intel one has "more bang for the buck" (because they are subsidizing it), then obviously countries will pick the Intel one. Then OLPC dies and suddenly the Intel ones start mysteriously costing more.

    The OLPC project has the aim to create extremely inexpensive educational laptops in a cost-effective way. They want a sustainable solution to education. Intel, according to Negroponte, is not working towards that goal.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:52PM (#19212373) Homepage

    No. Intel and Microsoft are interested in replacing the OLPC (small, light, huge battery life, open, safe) with little shrunken down normal laptops. With the OLPC you get the great battery life, all the programs (and programming languages) designed to encourage learning. With the Classmate you get... Windows. And Windows software.

    As I see it, the OLPC is about learning about computers and getting kids interested in learning. There is a ton to like about it. The Classmate is about getting kids used to Wintel computers, and locked into the status quo. Sure, they are both "computers", but they are targeted very differently.

    But OLPC is not for profit but Intel can dump classmate PCs cheaper than they can be made. They can call this "philanthropy". They can kill a better (in many ways, but not hardware speed wise) computer and get more people who come up on their system and used to that. But they are cheaper (or could be)! They are more powerful! They run Windows (read: it's a "real" computer).

    The OLPC is a revolution in many ways. If Intel really wanted to just help people, they would donate free CPUs or memory to the OLPC project, or at least sell them undercutting AMD. Instead of doing that and helping, they shrunk a normal laptop, made a few little changes, and have decided their way is better.

    Negroponte came off a little paranoid in the 60 minutes interview, but I agree with him. They are scared. If Intel subsidized the OLPC maybe they would be willing to put the little Intel stickers on every one.

    I'd gladly buy an OLPC today if I could. I find the little computer fascinating (both hardware, software, and principal). The other groups (MS and Intel, mostly) just seem to be trying to make a low cost laptop that is otherwise what everyone else uses, with the same problems.

  • by milgr ( 726027 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:53PM (#19212385)
    According to Intel [], the screen resolution is 800x400. This pales compared to the OLPC's 1200x900 [] resolution. 800x400 seems barely usable. Additionally, Intel shows students straining [] to read the screen.

    Which would you rather use?

  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:54PM (#19212399) Homepage

    Again, Intel is just trying to generate press, "Look at us! Look at how great we are! We are trying to help the poor!"

    And AMD wasn't when they inked a deal with OLPC?

    Intel would be more advise to give money to the OLPC project so the per-system cost could be lowered. Team work is needed here, not competition.

    That would be completely stupid of Intel. First, it would be putting money in the pockets of AMD. Second, AMD press would have an absolute field day -- "If Intel trusts us for the hard stuff, shouldn't you?" The reality is that Intel's choices were roll their own, or stay out completely.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:56PM (#19212443)
    Having seen that interview he did last night, I'd say it's at least as much about his ego than actually helping kids. He doesn't just want the kids helped, he also wants everyone coming an patting HIM on the back for it and telling him what a great guy he is.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:58PM (#19212479) Homepage Journal
    That's a rather silly statement. I mean, even apples and oranges are comparable. They're both fruit. OLPC and ClassmatePC are two systems designed to do basically the same thing, except the ClassmatePC was intended to run Windows from the beginning. OLPC can be made to do it, but it's not the idea. ClassmatePC is basically only useful in a classroom setting, whereas OLPC is useful anywhere, because of the power supply. ClassmatePC is faster and has more storage, OLPC is lower power and uses less power :)
  • Well, he might have thought that Intel wasn't going to get into the business of selling "gadgets".
  • by WrongMonkey ( 1027334 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:00PM (#19212487)
    I totally agree, but was trying to hold back on saying that explicitly based on a single short article.
  • The intel system is simply not useful in the places where the OLPC is most needed. But by existing it effectively drives up the cost of the OLPC; less OLPCs will be sold, reducing the effects of volume, and keeping the prices higher. The OLPC is not a moneymaking attempt, it is there to help the world. Intel is not there to help the world, they're there to make money. Thus intel's quest for cash is harming the OLPC project, while at the same time, the ClassmatePC cannot help people that the OLPC can. I think it's reasonable to be upset at intel's metooism.
  • by Mattintosh ( 758112 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:12PM (#19212609)
    His main complaint is that Intel is "dumping", that is, selling them below cost (and more importantly, below the OLPC's price) just to get a foothold on what could grow into a really nice monopoly somday.

    Intel with $$$ vs. a non-profit group with no $$$... that's just poor sportsmanship. Intel needs to back off.
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:13PM (#19212627)

    I read the article and there is no reason why Negroponte objects to Intel's efforts other than it undercuts his own project. If the goal is to have a cheap robust laptop for education, does it matter who makes it?

    The objective of the OLPC project is not to have "a cheap, robust laptop for education".

    It is to provide educational innovations centered around a cheap, robust laptop for education. OLPC is not just providing a laptop, or a laptop+software, but also coordinating a number of related services and content and content distribution systems, etc.
  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:31PM (#19212845) Journal
    Highly unlikely.
    • Intel joins the fray, OLPC goes under, Intel makes a profit and continues ("good will" + profit (even if slim)).
    • Intel joins the fray, OLPC competes, both sell units, both profit.
    • Intel joins the fray, doesn't make a profit, leaves OLPC wins
    • Intel joins the fray, OLPC quits, Intel fails to profit, leaves, OLPC comes back, OLPC wins.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:32PM (#19212859)
    OLPC is like apple, it's and end-to-end specification. I forget which CPU they are using, I assume it's a VIA since the whole thing is 4 watts. But even if it were an Intel CPU it's a grave danger.

    1) Like apple they could choose to change processors at any time. Thus they could move away from X86 if they wished.
    2) they will establish a huge software market that does not use intel specific advancements.
    3) It will use graphics other then Intel graphics

    In short by creating an enourmous consumer market for generic lowest common demoninator software, it removes a tremendous amount of product differentiation the INtel sells. To see this think back about 8 years ago when you had a choice of buying an intel P4 or P3 or buying whatever AMD was selling. You were not really sure if all your code optimizers would work on AMD, not sure if certain drivers would fail on AMD. It was a gamble. The answer was in most cases there was no problems at all. But we all had seen examples of problems. Intel was the safe bet. Plus when optimizations using SSE or analogs came out they were written for intel first. And lord save you if you bought Via or god forbid, transmeta.

    With a giant market in non-intel optimizations out there this advantage will be nullified. Software will respect the generic CPU needs. That hurts intel's premium price advantage.

  • by flitty ( 981864 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:43PM (#19213001)
    You forgot one
    Intel joins the fray, OLPC can no longer get enough countries to sign on for the project (due to worries about the new intel machine), making the mass production price of $100 unattainable, OLPC drops out when they run out of money.

    Intel, in using Windows and their massive R&D team finally concludes that $100 is too cheap, and decides it's not worth it to their "stockholders" to continue the project, and they drop out also. Everyone loses.
  • The BIG thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Maverynthia ( 1105281 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:44PM (#19213005)
    Comparing to (Organiation VS Commercial Business) is that the is trying to be the best it can be. It's Open source and basically open everything. If the kid wants to program up the next Halo then they can do that with the OLPC, however Intel (And M$) does seem to just want to just cut into the business and give these kids a cheap windowsbox. However we all know that when these M$ boxesneed upgrading, they are going to have to shell out more money for ClassmatePC Vista or whatever.

    I'm hoping OLPC is able to knock Intel and M$ out and show the world it's not about getting more consumers, but getting education to more people.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:52PM (#19213109)
    If the goal is to get technology to kids in developing nations, do we care who does it?

    This is not the main goal of the Microsoft/Intel project. They will say this to the public but their intentions are to stop the competitions products from gaining a significant market share. Both Microsoft and Intel had been offered opportunities to be part of the OLPC project and most likely pricing was their main issue. Negroponte knows this and it is likey why he said what he did in the 60Minutes piece.

    If Intel can pull it off cheaper, should I feel bad for Negroponte?

    They can't but they can get Microsoft involved and split the loss so they can compete with a small group who have researched and invested a few years into making it work and have no licensing issues/expenses by using Linux and OSS. Again, Negroponte knows this because they've already tried to negotiate with Microsoft and Intel along with know what such hardware is going to cost to manufacture in quantity.

    If this is truly altruistic work, then he should embrace Intel's commitment, and try to work together.

    Microsoft and Intel have no purpose doing what they are doing but to protect their marketshare and their brand names. Both of which help them keep their prices and market pricing at fat profit levels. The OLPC does not appear to be driven by profits and what Negroponte has done in the past shows he has an altruistic foundation. Microsoft nor Intel can show this and history shows quite the opposite.

    If this is for-profit capitalism, merely disguised as charity, then may the best man win.

    One side is business profit driven( Microsoft/Intel-ClassMatePC ) while the other is charity driven( OLPC ). They are crossing paths and we already know that the billions behind the Microsoft/Intel project is hurting the OLPC project since Negroponte has already said this.
    And it just blows me away that Intel would fall for this level when there has been nothing said in the press or otherwise which would have locked Intel out of future designs. AMD is not giving their CPU's away for free. Now Microsoft, that's another story since they absolutely can not allow Linux and OSS to gain traction anywhere. Once you've stopped cleaning Windows, you don't go back and with the open nature of the OLPC, the closed box of Microsoft Windows/software would be painful and constraining.


  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:53PM (#19213115)
    Some of the reasons the costs are lower than an mp3 player are because only governments can by this in bulk

    1) pass on all distribution, shipping, marketing costs to the government.
    2) likewise no warrantee or after sales service.
    3) only volume pre-orders. so their is no risk to the manfacturer on scale of production. All ecnomoies of scale are achieved on the first order.
    4) Other than the software there's no expensive cutting edge components.
    5) no retail stores, no middlemen, no warehouses.
    6) no sales floor packaging.

    Presumably those costs account for the majority of costs in the sales price of your MP3, which if it lacked any of those you would not buy it.

  • by X-rated Ouroboros ( 526150 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:05PM (#19213261) Homepage

    Most children have laps.
    They do not necessarily have desks.
    Or bicycles.
    Or generators.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:07PM (#19213295) Homepage Journal

    I see no reason (aside from the hippie objections of you OSS diehards) why it can't be just as effective a laptop (or even better) for students than the OLPC version.

    How about these:

    • Usability by children who can't read yet
    • Usability in environments with no power available
    • Networking with zero infrastructure
    • Usability in full daylight
    • A mode that allows tens of hours of e-book usage on a battery charge
    • A security model that allows mobile code without compromising safety
    • A computing model that teaches kids to create and modify software, rather than just consume it
  • Yuh huh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:07PM (#19213297)

    And they still stand to make a (some small) profit? That leads me to believe -we- are being taken "quite" advantage of by vendors of music/movie players
    Never give a sucker an even break. Most people wouldn't know the value of something if it smacked them in the mouth with a sledge hammer.

  • Pushing Windows (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Laxator2 ( 973549 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:09PM (#19213325)
    I'm sure that an important contribution comes from M$ who will not sit back and watch OLPC educate the kids in developing countries in using Linux and FOSS. M$ wants them hooked on Windows. Also, a slightly faster CPU can easily make Intel's laptop more attractive than AMD's offer. A serious loss now is worth a lot more later when the market will be able to absorb the cost of Windoze.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:13PM (#19213381) Homepage Journal

    I see no reason (aside from the hippie objections of you OSS diehards) why it can't be just as effective a laptop (or even better) for students than the OLPC version.

    Well, let us address these reasons, and perhaps you will learn to see them.

    Both have good battery life (more than enough for kids to use at night then bring back to the school to recharge in the morning)

    The OLPC isn't just intended for kids to do their homework on. It's intended to be a window on the world, providing collaborative computing and access to information.

    When they're not using the OLPC as a schoolbook, they can be using it to help their parents find information that will help them all survive, for example.

    Also, you might not be aware of this, but many schools in the third world don't have electricity. If they have light other than the ambient, they're burning something. The yo-yo charger of the OLPC is infinitely more useful than the plug-in charger of the ClassmatePC if there's no where to plug in!

    Advantage: Clearly goes to OLPC.

    both will likely have good educational software and wifi support

    Actually, there will likely be far more for the students to do with their wifi than the classmatepc will provide. ClassmatePC provides the hardware and the OS, and that's it. Period, end of story. OLPC provides educational (and other) software out of the box and provides it on a system with an interface that is, if not intuitive, at least more intuitive, less language-oriented, and vastly simpler than Windows. The ClassmatePC is okay for the developed world where the children already know how to use Windows, but the OLPC's simple and clean interface is a huge advantage.

    In addition, it can not really be argued that Windows could be more secure than the ClassmatePC. So there is another reason to avoid Windows. There people have no reason to reduce their total cost of 0wnership.

    Advantage: OLPC

    the Intel version comes with a plain old ethernet port too, for wired schools, unlike the OLPC

    The idea of the OLPC is primarily to serve people who live in places where there probably isn't going to be anything to plug in to. And the OLPC plus a USB ethernet device is cheaper and still lower-power than the ClassmatePC. But virtually none of the target audience for the OLPC needs wired ethernet.

    Advantage: Intel if anyone, but really nobody. Irrelevant.

    If Negroponte were TRULY interested in the kids more than his ego, he would be working WITH Intel, not against them. There is no reason they can't work together.

    I can think of two reasons. First, intel doesn't want to work with them, because their CPU is from AMD. Second, intel had the chance to work with them, but instead they called the OLPC a "gadget" and decided to make their own competing device, then in order to sabotage the OLPC project in favor of the ClassmatePC they started putting out articles on "what's wrong with" the OLPC and publicly discrediting it in totally irrelevant but still media-attention-grabbing ways.

    Intel is not interested in working with the OLPC and never had been. They see its popularity only as a sign that they need to enter the market themselves; but in doing so they have brought a product which is utterly unsuited to the target market.

    It's not a surprise that intel is scum. They're a publicly traded company and they have a responsibility to be bastards to satisfy their shareholders. But it is a surprise that so many morally bankrupt individuals would defend their actions and act as if the OLPC project or Negroponte caused this problem.

  • by fishthegeek ( 943099 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:13PM (#19213385) Journal
    Bicycle and a generator? This might work if you are stranded on an uncharted desert isle with a professor to set things up and a couple of hot actresses to make innovative dishes from coconuts. That one hundred dollar pc would turn into a six hundred dollar pc really quick when you add a new Schwinn bike and a generator to it and without the Professor around to fix things when they broke how long would they last?
  • To impugn Intel as "only interested in making money" ignores the reality that AMD no doubt got involved in OLPC for exactly the same reason. Somewhere, some accountant at AMD had to draw up a balance sheet showing the OLPC CPUs as a net profit over time -- to do otherwise would be to risk the near-certainty of a shareholder lawsuit.

    The difference is that AMD is working to make money by doing something positive, and intel is working to sabotage that positive thing in order to make money.

    Personally I don't give a crap why someone does something, aside from it being a potential indicator of future plans. I don't care what they think of something. What I care about is what someone actually does. And what intel is actually doing is sabotaging the OLPC project in pursuit of profits. In the process they are spreading lies and generally damaging the credibility of the OLPC project through falsehood.

    I don't think that AMD is good and intel is bad, I think that AMD is there and intel is bad, in this situation.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:21PM (#19213523) Homepage

    According to Intel, the screen resolution is 800x400. This pales compared to the OLPC's 1200x900 resolution. 800x400 seems barely usable.

    Ah, yes. Unless the laptop in question has the mega resolution of the modern desktop - it's not useable. The fact that 800x400 (or 640x480) worked quite well for thousands (millions?) of PCs for years is simply irrelevant.

    Additionally, Intel shows students straining to read the screen.

    'Straining' is a subjective judgement - not a fact that can be discerned from the picture.

    Which would you rather use?

    Which I would use is utterly irrelevant, as the criteria for my machine are vastly different from the criteria by which an educational machine should be judged.
  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:36PM (#19213715)
    How about this for free market for Intel and their shareholders. I am not going to buy any of their chips as long as they do stuff like this. If they stop this strong arming of OLPC and then I consider them to be worth of looking at their products. Until then, I will buy AMD. Maybe I am only one person, but I hope alot of other people come to that conclusion.
  • Is he TRULY wants to help the kids, he needs to put grudges and his bruised personal ego aside. If it helped some kids get some laptops/medicine/water/food, I would take an offer of assistance from Adolph Hitler. Again, it comes down to who this is REALLY about--the kids or HIM.

    Okay, I'm only going to explain this one more time, then I am going to write you off as too stupid to understand. At that point I will actually go and remove one of my relationships just so I can add you as a foe.

    1. The OLPC project uses a processor from AMD. So it is unlikely that intel would work with the OLPC project under any circumstances.
    2. Intel has characterized the OLPC as a "gadget []", probably simply to discredit it because a major part is supplied by AMD. They have not evinced any interest in helping the project, only in harming it.
    3. Intel actually went so far as to distribute documentation about the shortcomings of the OLPC in order to promote their ClassmatePC. Does this sound like an organization interested in working WITH the OLPC?

    Is he TRULY wants to help the kids, he needs to put grudges and his bruised personal ego aside.

    Negroponte would, I am sure, be interested in working with intel if they were interested in working with him, which they are not - they have demonstrated this with their repeated unfounded attacks on the OLPC project.

    If it helped some kids get some laptops/medicine/water/food, I would take an offer of assistance from Adolph Hitler.

    Then it would turn out that (were he not dead) he had done it solely to get into their good graces, so that his troops could come in disguised as aid workers, and commit genocide.

    The situation here is similar in more ways than you probably appreciate. Intel is taking on the OLPC not so that it can help students with education - if they were interested in assisting with education, they wouldn't be attacking the OLPC, which addresses the needs of an entirely different group of users. The ClassmatePC is useful primarily in the first world, and it has a TPM chip in it which addresses the needs not of users, but of media corporations. Surely the system could have been cheaper without TPM?

    But more importantly, information is the only thing that can save people scrabbling around in the dirt and cooking their food over a plastic fire because all the trees are gone. And the OLPC suits the needs of providing that information to people living in places where there are no electrical outlets than the ClassmatePC, which would be completely and totally useless in such a situation.

    Again, it comes down to who this is REALLY about--the kids or HIM.

    Yes, and this conversation comes down to who this is really about - Negroponte, or you. It's really not about him. It's about you thinking that you know better than he does whether he should or shouldn't work with a company that has been sabotaging the project which he is sweating over from day one.

    If someone announces their intent to destroy me, I usually don't try to make friends with them; I'm too afraid that while I'm shaking their right hand, they'll stab me with the left. Tell you what, next time a mugger demands your wallet, why don't you suggest that the two of you go into business together? I'm sure you'll get along famously.

  • by Garrett Fox ( 970174 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:46PM (#19213843) Homepage
    Nope, and so I would look forward to Intel (or anyone else) offering a super-cheap laptop like this on the open market, regardless of the effect on OLPC. You'd think that a group of engineers who get tired of hearing people say "Let me buy your product" would, you know, sell it to them.
  • by suggsjc ( 726146 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:48PM (#19213861) Homepage
    First, did we ever just jump into large endeavors without considering the costs?

    Second, is the USA not great now? If so, why? Yes or no I bet that there are a lot more reasons than just "corporate greed" or in this case "corporate responsibility."

    I have no idea if you read/comprehend your own posts or if you are just playing to the anti-(big) business /. crowd to get a little karma. Either way, do you really want to invest in/own a company that will enter into large long-term contracts without considering its ability to generate a profit from said endeavor? If so, then you might be what is wrong with the USA...
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:26PM (#19214363)

    Ah, yes. Unless the laptop in question has the mega resolution of the modern desktop - it's not useable. The fact that 800x400 (or 640x480) worked quite well for thousands (millions?) of PCs for years is simply irrelevant.

    Those millions of PCs were not being marketed as a platform for reading to replace the paper books and the associated distribution costs in third-world countries, replacing them with electronic distribution and duplication. That's part of the vision of the OLPC, if not Classmate.

    The role that the OLPC is aimed it is not the role that computers were used in when they first started to be used widely in US schools, so comparing them with, say, those computers isn't all that reasonable. The features ought to be viewed in light of the intended use. For reading in place of books, both the reflective mode and its high resolution are key features.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:37PM (#19214485)

    Intel doesn't at all like the fact that a huge number of kids around the world are going to cut their teeth on AMD / Linux based systems.
    Intel doesn't make computers, they make chips. I think the fear is that now there is a market identified, box makers will start going with AMD to capitalize on it. I see the classmate PC as "seeding" to show that Intel can provide a solution for the ultra-low-cost market. Basically, "we make low cost chips for emerging markets too."

    As a for profit company, the tactics they're using to compete with the (non-profit) OLPC group are kind of sad, since it's only the kids who will really suffer from this.
    If Intel were the only player I'd agree, however, I'm sure the boxmakers (and possibly consumer electronics makers) will want this market and providing systems isn't Intel's forte. Even if OLPC is killed off, there will be other for profit companies who will enter the market and compete. The kids, and the market as a whole will benefit as invesments will be made on volumes and lower prices.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:38PM (#19214493) Homepage

    two systems designed to do basically the same thing

    Actually that is the reason the Classmate PC is such a joke and Intel's actions are absurd. They are not designed to do basically the same thing.

    The Classmate PC is "specially developed for students in emerging markets" [] where as "OLPC is a non-profit organization providing a means to an end--an end that sees children in even the most remote regions of the globe being given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community" []

    The Classmate PC is competing to be the leader in emerging markets by providing a cheap Wintel platform but lacks the design insight which is backing the OLPC. The Classmate PC relys on existing Windows educational software with the false assumption that just by providing Wintel laptops and software education will improve.

    The OLPC is an end to end solution which happens to use a laptop with hardware and software specially designed to achieve a goal which is not to compete in emerging markets but to improve education and learning in developing countries.

    Intel should be ashamed.

  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:41PM (#19214521) Homepage

    they're actually crying because Intel is advertising a more expensive laptop to the same customers

    Actually, it's a bit deeper than that. Intel is spreading FUD about the OLPC project in general, and about the XO (the OLPC laptop) in particular. This is not unlike Microsoft's vaporware product announcements designed to forestall customers adopting or migrating to software made by Microsoft's competitors. The difference here is that Intel's product offering is not exactly vaporware. What it is, though, is a more expensive piece of hardware that's being subsidized by Intel to force market adoption, at the expense of OLPC. The accusation here is that Intel is pricing their offering below-cost to drive OLPC out of the market. Here in the U.S., the practice is called "dumping," and is ostensibly illegal.

    If OLPC becomes stillborn due to Intel's efforts (an outcome Intel would probably welcome), do you think Intel's commitment to their own laptops-for-kids initiative will persist, or will it evaporate?
  • by Stu101 ( 1031686 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:46PM (#19214585) Homepage
    People, Don't forget that with this OLPC system, not only does M$ crap itself at the thought of millions of linux competent kids, as intel does in chips, but Intel could loose out in another way, as could M$

    OLPC is a paradigm shift in computing. There are NO licence costs, everything is useable, for free, Everything has been designed from the ground up, its a new legacy free, tightly tuned computer that has thrown out all the old PC baggage and nastyness, with a new light, useable OS, that can fly on a 350ish MHz machine.

    If it works, there is no reason why they cant make desktop systems using the same code, optimised, open source components. Imagine an OLPC desktop with 512MB RAM and a hard drive, and perhaps an 800MHz chip. It could potentially change home desktop computing in developing worlds forever.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:57PM (#19214697) Journal
    A hand-powered, field-capable, inexpensive wireless laptop is something that many many consumers want very much.

    That means there's almost no chance of them ever becoming available to the public.

    The corporate world no longer believes they have to give consumers what they want. Because, we have become the consumables.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:14PM (#19214875)

    If the Screen and CPU are seperate units, you can have a small portable computer, with a box to keep dust and dirt out of it while not in use.

    Sure, but so what? How would that be any better or cheaper?

    What is really needed is a small, very low cost, fairly durable (especially for dust and debris) portable computer.

    Right: small and durable (and low-power). Hence, a laptop.

    Really, even if you were trying not to give them laptops, by the time you analyze the requirements you end up with a laptop anyway! Why fight it?

  • by mickwd ( 196449 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:23PM (#19214955)
    "First, did we ever just jump into large endeavors without considering the costs?"

    Iraq ?

    "I have no idea if you read/comprehend your own posts..."

    This is quite the most curious comment I've seen in a long time here.

    Nevertheless, you've made your point and I've made mine. Let others make of them what they will.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:40PM (#19215095)

    I read the article and there is no reason why Negroponte objects to Intel's efforts other than it undercuts his own project.

    Actually, there are very good reasons for Negroponte to object, such as the fact that the OLPC project actually has useful educational software, while the Intel thing only exists to brainwash people with Windows. If it's not in the article, then it just means the author was too stupid to understand that.

  • by Futile Rhetoric ( 1105323 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @07:58PM (#19215281)
    Isn't this a shitstorm. I especially like the fellow who coined the term "armchair economists" -- clearly, his trimester of community college economics 101 has left him quite enamored with the idea of perfect competition and all the wonderful things that it entails. Unfortunately, markets (other than a handful of notable exceptions) don't work like that. There is no perfect information; there are significant barriers to entry; consumers, and in this case governments (Third World governments, no less) don't always act in a utility-maximizing way. The addition of a competitor need not make things better, at all.

    We're not dealing with free market economics here, there is a multitude of ways in which they are and can be distorted -- hell, the market doesn't even exist, yet. There is no infrastructure in place. The final consumers aren't the ones making the decisions, either -- governments are. Had I decided on which laptop I'd want as a gift instead of my father, then HP would have sold one less "entertainment laptop" with an integrated Intel Graphics Accelerator. There is a limited number of (quite possibly poorly informed, certainly if Intel can help it) customers. Government officials don't always know what the hell they're doing, and they can certainly be susceptible to meaningless marketing drivel (not to mention gifts). There is no reason whatsoever why the best product will win the competition in this case, and unless Intel can increase the value to the children, for whom the laptops are intended in the first place, enough to make up for the losses of economies of scale by OLPC (not to mention the possibility of its complete demise), a market with two participants makes no sense whatsoever.

    This is quite possibly a one-shot endeavor; it has to succeed now, or it will written off as worthless. There may not be a second round -- if Intel uses its considerable capital to price OLPC out of the market by offering their laptops below cost, there may not be any coming back if Intel decide to pull out due to lack of profits later on. I haven't heard anyone argue that the Classmate is a better machine for the purpose of educating Third World children yet, and I find this most telling.

    On the one hand, we have a consortium of corporations (you could go with just Intel I suppose, but I'm quite certain that Microsoft are backing the project, as does everyone else here it seems) with considerable economic and marketing muscle, whose sole purpose it is to make a profit off of their operations. On the other, we have a non-profit organization whose purpose it is to provide children with educational opportunities in parts of the world that need them; to reach as many children as possible by minimizing costs; to design a machine which best serves those goals. The latter is what's at stake here -- it doesn't take a genius to figure out which direction Intel will go in if Intel's goals (making a profit) clash with the purpose of the project.

    Finally, I'm amused by the cynicism and ad hominem attacks against Negroponte. A project which he obviously feels strongly about (and believes will do a lot of good) is jeopardized by people who're in it to make a buck. If he believed that Intel's involvement would better serve the goals of OLPC, his reaction may have been entirely different. He does not, and he has every reason not to. He's snappy about it, and so am I -- and I'm not even personally involved in the project.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by soupforare ( 542403 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:09PM (#19215845)
    The tactics are tried and proven, too. "Wait for Itanium" worked great at helping to kill Alpha and DEC.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AoT ( 107216 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:14PM (#19215889) Homepage Journal
    ClassmatePC is basically only useful in a classroom setting, whereas OLPC is useful anywhere, because of the power supply.

    Assuming power in the classroom setting. That's one of the reasons the OLPC is so nice.

    That and the little ears. So cute.
  • Your last bullet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by el americano ( 799629 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:16PM (#19216331) Homepage
    You think OLPC will come back once Intel gives up? People will have moved on, investors already got burned. There would always be the threat that Intel would respond and give them another beat down. If they already lost that battle once, why would they want to fight it again, without the headstart this time.

    I don't think your last bullet exists as a real possibility.

  • by Grail ( 18233 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @10:17PM (#19216339) Journal
    Except that in your "everyone loses" scenario, Intel still wins because they never actually shipped any product, but they succeeded in blocking one of their competitors from entering a new market.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982