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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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  • by microbob ( 29155 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:37PM (#19212149)
    Can I buy either one of these? I'd like to get my hands on them to see what they are all about.
  • Re:Jeebus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garbletext ( 669861 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:45PM (#19212273)
    Negroponte's upset that Intel has been sniping out the specific countries that OLPC is targeting, telling governments to hold off until Intel's offering is ready, publishing material like "the shortcomings of the One Laptop per Child approach," etc. 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. 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.
  • by crush ( 19364 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:48PM (#19212315)
    Think of the chil^H^H^H^H young people, you monster.
    The Classmate PC runs Microsoft Windows XP Embedded Version 2002, with Service Pack 2. There's very little installed other than drivers for the hardware and the basic Windows Accessories applications. Interestingly, the full suite of Windows desktop games were present - it seems that Intel is keen for children in the developing world to play solitaire when they're bored, just like the rest of us. 6/09/28/Intel-Classmate-PC-EXCLUSIVE/p2 []
  • by firstian ( 810484 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:53PM (#19212381)
    We all want cheaper hardware, but is flooding developing nations with $100 electronic equipment environmentally sound? Does that $100 include how much it'll cost to properly dispose of the unit? If not, how much will it be? There was just another story [] today about cost of digital waste. Is it time for us to consider the cost of the equipment more than just the R&D + manufacturing cost?
  • by Iggowanna ( 659238 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:55PM (#19212423) Journal

    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!"
    Don't really agree with you on this point. There is a market, although it's a long term proposition. Provide cheap laptops today and when a consumer market emerges, the consumers will either remember the 'charity' of Intel, or simply buy what they are familiar with (Intel, again).

    This is the same strategy Apple used (although with limited success) by selling it's Apple ][s, ]|[s and Macs cheap as dirt to schools to try and capitalize on the students as they eventually became consumers.
  • by CheeseTroll ( 696413 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @03:55PM (#19212435)
    Exactly. And the danger in that is that once OLPC is forced out, then Intel will also discontinue their efforts.
  • by SiChemist ( 575005 ) * on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:06PM (#19212555) Homepage
    AMD was already producing the "OLPC" processor before they were contacted by OLPC. It's a "computer on a chip" called the Geode. We have one here at work in a low-power PC running Debian. Bought it in 2005. Works quite well for a low power consumption but fairly powerful single board computer. Our system was used in the field as a data collecting computer for a research project.
  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:22PM (#19212735) Homepage
    I'm not saying the Geode is custom for the OLPC. I'm saying I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that AMD is providing them at a steep discount, but is banking on recovering that money in general goodwill for future consumer purchases. 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.
  • by rmdyer ( 267137 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:35PM (#19212897) me that they can build these things for less than the price of most MP3/AAC music players. More materials, more software/hardware development, etc. 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. In fact, and in general, we are all being taken advantage of these days by big corps that vend anything from cell phones to TVs, and especially those that include any kind of "service" plan.

    It's no wonder they can sell Xunes. All it takes is 1 customer and they've made a profit! I give up. ;-(

  • Maybe if he would set his ego aside and work WITH Intel instead of taking his "My way or nothing" approach, they could come to an accommodation.

    After looking for a vendor for the processor for the OLPC, they decided on AMD. Presumably, they tried intel, but intel wanted too much for the part, or was less than cooperative. We don't know what went on there. But we do know that intel has formerly referred to the OLPC in the least savory terms possible. They were insulting, to say the least. Clearly they were not interested. Since then they have begun their own project which they claim is superior, in spite of the many failings of their hardware platform. In fact the only advantage of the OLPC is in raw computing power; in every other category the OLPC is superior. Basically, it is impossible for them to work WITH intel when intel began by attempting to sabotage the OLPC by calling it names.

    Instead of viewing Intel as a potential ally, he views them as the enemy

    ...which they MOST CERTAINLY are...

    edging in on *HIS* personal feel-good project.

    If you invest your all into a project to help people, and someone comes along and craps it up in the name of future profits by dumping a piece of inferior (for the stated goals of the OLPC project) hardware which due to marketing is perceived as superior, are you going to be personally offended at them? Or are you an emotionless robot who couldn't care less?

    When you do one thousandth of one percent as much as Negroponte is doing to bring information and education to the oppressed, then you will be qualified to comment.

    If he truly cared about the kids, he should be willing to work with Intel or anyone else.

    And if you had actually been following this story and thus had something interesting or insightful to say you would know that intel has been making disparaging comments and generally being assholes from the beginning, doing all the can to sabotage the product. With friends like that... you know the rest.

    I don't know if you usually try to make friends with people trying to push you off of a cliff, but I don't think it's a good idea unless you want to plummet to your doom.

  • by Dues ( 786223 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:56PM (#19213145)
    Use a fake email address if you like, but please tell Intel what you think of their Wal-Mart style business practices in competition with this non-profit org. []
  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @04:58PM (#19213165)
    so that would mean that they could split the losses between Microsoft, Intel, and the RIAA and get on with trying to kill off the OLPC project. Having the TPM crap in there is probably something Microsoft required too since they do not want these getting a OLPC image installed. After all, this whole thing is far more likely to be caused by threats of what positive press Linux will get when OLPC trials succeed. IMO.

  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:07PM (#19213307)
    I would gadly buy the second laptop for a child in trade for being able to buy one for me too!
  • by CustomDesigned ( 250089 ) <> on Monday May 21, 2007 @05:29PM (#19213619) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft games would be just as good for grammar stage learning, but once you get to the logic stage of child development, there is a world of difference. (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric are terms from the Trivium concept of classical education.) At the logic stage (which kicks in sometime between age 6 and 21 depending on the child - bell curve thing peaking around junior high), kids want to understand how things work, not just memorize facts. M$ actively prevents going very deep into how their system works. That is why I've seen all the students at the Logic stage saddled with M$ donated equipment and software go out and buy TI calculators that they can barely afford. The reason is that they can access a much lower level. I watch them explain symbol tables and software interrupt vectors to each other saying, "Cool!" and such.

    In the class I teach, they use a Linux system (FC4), and can do the same thing, plus have a vast library of real code to look at. Many of my students are handicapped with parent provided Windows computers at home. Fortunately, there are interpreter based systems like Squeak and Python that run on Windows and let them dive into a lot of low level details (just not to the hardware level).

    The bottom line is that an OSS based computer, whether Intel or OLPC, will be far more valuable for computer science education of interested logic stage and older kids. In the poor areas being targeted, either system will need to be useful for a long time. I can see a synergy between the two hardware devices. Use OSS software for both systems. Use the Intel Classmate for computers that stay in the classroom as a resource. Use OLPC as take home devices owned by the children.
  • by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:01PM (#19214035)
    Intel's FUD aside, there are four main reasons why the OLPC has nothing to fear.

    1: Power. Built-in generator is a sweet thing as other as pointed out. In fact, there are schools in Mexico and other 2nd world countries where electricity is either too expensive to pay for or not available.

    OLPC - No cost to run.

    2: No fan, no vents, sealed against elements like a typical cellphone. This is the main reason they went with a low powered chip - to make it weatherproof. Not to really save power. Intel's design is going to have problems in the U.S. - let alone someplace like Egypt or Brazil.

    OLPC - more rugged. Less maintainence issues.

    3: Open Source. OLPC is giving the nations in question a free ride. Full source, free upgrades, and so on - in short, a package that can be maintained for zero cost by their education departments. Forever. (this is the part where despite the FUD, that Intel hits a big brick wall - cost to maintain) These countries aren't idiots. They just don't have the money, so whatever costs less down the road and can be maintained for a decade without major upgrades (or more!) is going to win. OLPC was carefully made to fit exactly this requirement. Intel's Windows box is a disaster waiting to happen and they know it. Plus, the Intel box runs slower! Faster CPU but the OS bloat is apalling while the OLPC is efficient. Clear win for Negroponte.

    OLPC - no cost to maintain the software.

    4: FUD doesn't work with these countries. They have a built-in loathing, verging on abject hatred for being exploited by foreign interests and corporations as it is. Intel doesn't get this at all. The guy offering to be their friend for real will get ten times the traction. He has little to worry about. This is why foreign leaders listen to President Carter. Because he's a decent person who isn't going to stab them in the back for profit (and he's a nice guy, too). Megroponte has nothing to fear - he's a saint in their minds already compared to Intel or Microsoft.

    OLPC - true philanthropy at work.

    He really doesn't have much to fear. But, yes, I wold also be a bit ticked off at their FUD.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:01PM (#19214041)

    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?
    I'm sure Intel had the opportunity to bid on the project, just like AMD did.

    If AMD was able to sell just the chips cheaper than Intel could, why would Intel think they could sell a completely assembled product that includes components not even part of Intel's core competency for less?
  • by DMoylan ( 65079 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @06:04PM (#19214079)
    or another option. do what the swiss army do.

    the swiss army knife is made by 2 companies victorinox and wegner. they buy 50% of their knives from each as they did not want to have to depend on a single manufacturer. it lasted for about 100 years till it looked like wegner was going to be bought by a non swiss company. victorinox stepped in and bought wegner but maintains it as separate company. orinox_and_Wenger []

    perhaps the olpc project could buy 50% of their chips from intel and 50% from amd. of course they would have to each be making a very similar chip or for intel to be building the amd chip under licence. they could still compete and profit as they each find cheaper ways to make the same chips. they would each be demonstrating that their interest is in educating the children which is very good pr.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @09:06PM (#19215829)
    As far as I can see these are two totally different machines:

    * Low power usage
    * Tablet (With daylight screen)
    * splash proof casing
    * Custom OS and software for teaching
    * Ad-hoc WIFI for LAN

    * Compatability with available consumer software titles
    * Compatability with peripheral hardware
    * Windows networking ability

    OK - so here's what we do...

    Everyone who wants to buy a cheap laptop for their kids - get a Classmate.
    Send the 3rd world kids OLPC

    everyone happy?

    (PS does this mean we're going to see an iTop from Apple?)
  • by Swave An deBwoner ( 907414 ) on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:17PM (#19216741)
    If you don't terribly mind reading TFA, you will note that the caption beneath the photo of the Intel "Classmate PC" says:

    Intel's Classmate PC runs Microsoft Windows and Linux

    So while Intel might not like the prospect that "kids around the world are going to cut their teeth on AMD", the "/ Linux" part of your comment is off the mark.

    Is Negroponte doing his OLTP thing as a purely philanthropic endeavor? I know that his organization is listed as "nonprofit", but that doesn't exclude its management from cutting themselves fantastic salaries, as do many at other nonprofit organizations. His "nonprofit" may be slated to make him a very rich man indeed.

    OTOH, the Intel offering, at around the same price, may well be a better product. Think of the children!
  • Letter to Mr. Barret (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2007 @11:37PM (#19216883)
    Just sent this letter through the intel "contact us" site. I doubt it will really get there or be answered or do anything. If I get an answer, I'll post it here.

    Dear Mr. Barrett,

    While discussing the influences of "big, evil" companies with my friends (pseudo-serious, with lots of beer and polemics as we often do), a friend of mine actually stated that these companies are not evil. In fact, they are neither evil nor good, since their single and sole purpose is to acquire money, which, in itself, is not connected to morality. Pecuniam non olet. It is common business practice to make a copy/improved version of an already existing product, but slightly incompatible (and proprietary), sell it below price to lure people into it such that they eventually become stuck with it. Although clever and subtle, people like you and me can usually see through this mechanism and decide in advance which product to choose and with which one to become stuck with: money talks; the average person's responsibility lies in her wallet (i.e. if you don't like Chinese workers to be underpaid, don't buy your deck chair made in China, although it becomes harder and harder to avoid things produced with exploitation. But that is besides the point here.). Thus, this poses (usually minor) inconveniences to our wallet and/or will affect the time we loose.

    This acquires an entirely new quality when the product and people in question are such that the persons can't afford the product in the first place. Along comes a non-for-profit organization, develops the OLPC project and tries to help. These people depend on this offer. What you do now by bombarding/undercutting the OLPC project is to take away the non-for-profit part of this whole idea and make money off of people who do not have any anyway. Having power over others means the ability to impose your will on other people without them being able to do anything about this.

    The OLPC project was created by a bunch of capacities and scientists who probably know a lot about education and how this needs to be done. In the BBC article ( ), you stated that "There are lots of opportunities for us to work together" with regards to the OLPC project. True. Well.

    First, you created your own laptop which runs Windows and Linux and seems not compatible in any way with the OLPC laptop. The OLPC laptop has an OS that comes with it that is specifically designed for education and children. I do not see this with Windows or Linux. (We are talking about people here of which some have never used computers, so saying that you could find educational software for those OSes and install it yourself does not count.) And they will be stuck with it.

    Then, your company issued comparison studies of the OLPC laptop and your own laptop --- in a study that I claim to be not-so-scientific, since Intel came up with it, Intel conducted it, Intel evaluated it, and, of course, Intel distributed it.

    So. "There are lots of opportunities for us to work together". This is a true statement, for it does not say whether you actually want or will work together. And it seems to me that you probably purposely missed and ignored the most obvious opportunity: Build a laptop which is COMPATIBLE with the OLPC laptop, ACTUALLY working together with the OLPC guys. And I don't mean right down to the hardware, OLPC is linux based and therefore capable of stomaching both Intel and AMD stuff. I mean, having the same user-side specs, same looks, same GUI running, etc, etc. Heck, you could even sell it cheaper than AMD. That is, of course, if AMD does not have any exclusive deals with OLPC.

    There are certainly worse problems on the world than this. All the worse, you probably knew all this anyway. Also, this letter will not do a single thing. In this sense, it's an egoistic letter, since it primarily helps me to relieve my anger. But I will decide with my wallet: I will upgrade my computer soon and it certainly won't contain Intel cores until the " lots of opportunities for us to work together" aren't blatantly inored by your company. And I hope --- also for your sake --- that many others will take the same course of action.

    F. S.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court