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Why Intel and OLPC Parted Ways 393

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.

    • 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
      • by coolGuyZak ( 844482 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:12AM (#21932234)

        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.

        • 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 Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:32PM (#21933286)

            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 @09:51AM (#21931692)
      > If not for AMD, Intel would be the M$ of the processor market.

      Isn't that just some Godwin variant? []

      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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It's kind of a dumb point anyway. Intel would certainly be like MS if it weren't for AMD, but that's true of pretty much any company. Apple would be just like MS if they had MS' market share, Madden has been declining in quality ever since EA got that exclusive license from the NFL, and so forth. Any company who has a monopoly is going to act like MS, so why single out Intel?
        • 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.
          • I'm not suggesting that at all. I'm suggesting that we shouldn't single out individuals (or corporations) in a hypothetical scenario. Actual behavior should be frowned upon (or smiled upon), not "They would act this way if..." scenarios.
          • 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.
        • 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?

          • Singling out Intel for bad behavior they have actually committed is fine, I have no objections to that. I'm saying it's kind of pointless and dumb to single out Intel for hypothetical bad behavior (i.e., "Intel would be as bad as MS if it weren't for AMD").
      • 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".

      • > If not for AMD, Intel would be the M$ of the processor market.

        Isn't that just some Godwin variant? []

        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.

        1- If you're gonna bitch about godwinning through M$, don't do it yourself in conclusion to your post.

        2- They aren't trying to outsmart the competition, they saw that a charitable endeavor was moving large amounts of cash, and they thouhgt "hey, we want that money!", they are evil, and they should be stopped.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        No, they're not. Both Intel and Microsoft have a long, documented history of stealing work from other companies, then using the stolen goods to drive the other company out of business. And they double teamed DEC, with Intel stealing the Alpha technologies and Microsoft stealing the VMS technologies. They've both got far more of a history of this than their competitors.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 bluepri
      • Re:Intel just sucks. (Score:5, Informative)

        by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @02:12PM (#21933604)

        It's like if a construction company and Habitat for Humanity...

        Actually, Mr. Negropnte himself had a better analogy, "They played another dirty trick in Peru," he said. "It's a little bit like McDonald's competing with the World Food Program."

        I think that is a better analogy because the OLPC project designed an ideal system for these children with lots of cool, new features not available on regular computers. Intel didn't steal the plans, they just made a regular, really low end PC running windows. It doesn't have the cool software, doesn't auto-discover other machines and create a mesh network and allow kids to network applications together. It is really unsuited to the task, just as the food provided by McDonald's is largely unsuited to meeting the basic nutritional needs of children when compared to the offerings from the World Food Program.

        Intel could have met their obligations and tried to pitch their new mobile, low power chipset for the next version of the OLPC. Instead they tried to be unethical and tried to poison deals with their competitor through deception, ignoring what is best for underprivileged children. This actually makes me more likely to buy an AMD processor for my next upgrade to my home server, but since this will not get any real press it will still probably make Intel money in the long run and they'll probably do it again next time they get a chance.

    • So basically they're a normal corporation, acting perfectly normally to create more value for its shareholders, eh?

      I mean, just like, say, Sun during Scott McNealy's CEO days, going "we love Linux and OSS" in the morning and "Linux is teh suck! Die! Die! Die!" in the evening of the same day? Or like IBM showing up at Athlon launches and proclaiming its undying love for AMD, then spending 100 million on developping an Intel-only chipset that nearly negated the advantage of AMD's IMC and hypertransport? Or li
    • Well, actually, Intel's behavior is in many ways worse than MS's. Had AMD not created a better chip at the right time, they would be GONE! Intel had every intention of killing them off. Now, as to AMD, you do not really think that they are that much better? If they were in the top spot, most likely, they would have nothing to do with OLPC and it would be VIA based.
    • "Intel's behavior regarding the OLPC is reprehensible."

      Intel employees I've met have gone further than that. They are saying that the management of Intel CEO Paul S. Otellini [] is reprehensible. They say he is socially unskilled. They are saying he creates dissension and reduces morale among Intel employees by creating adversarial situations.

      Certainly Otellini's handling of the One Laptop Per Child initiative could not have been worse. It was as though he said to himself, "How can I get billions of dollars worth of free publicity for Intel, all negative?" Intel's actions have created the impression that Intel wants to kill acceptance of the OLPC so that it can kill the OLPC project and then raise prices on its own products.

      Anyone thinking of buying an Intel consumer product should know that Intel had a consumer products division in 2001 and decided to close it: Intel axes its consumer electronics unit []. Why? In my opinion, the Intel Consumer Products Division was extremely poorly managed.

      Also, Intel's marketing has been incredibly poorly managed. At one point, Intel was trying to sell processors by giving away dolls. Typical reaction: "Could this be the end of the bunny ads? We sure as hell hope so..." []

      There is no evidence that I can see that Intel is managed better today. Here is an April 2006 example I found quickly: Intel's consumer fumbling [], in which Intel is trying to sell products using an unpronounceable trademark.
  • 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 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 Znork ( 31774 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:12AM (#21931806)
      "Um... that sounds a bit spun doesn't it?"

      Maybe in favour of Intel? A more accurate headline, but one that could be construed as inflammatory would be:

      Intel attempts to subvert efforts to get computers to children.

      "the Intel machines it's trying to sell will still go to the same target audience as the OLPC units"

      For about twice the price. Which means half the number of units.

      "it's not like they suddenly hate kids!"

      Well, no. They just dont like kids quite as much as they like money.

      I don't particularly dislike Intel, but in this case I must say I find their behaviour offensive. This will go on their permanent record and get weighed in for future purchases.

      "I'd love to see other devices like the EEE PC tailored towards developing nations in the near future."

      In the long run, paving the ground for this device class is without a doubt the greatest contribution of the OLPC project.
    • You must have missed the bit in the article which said the peruvian government was interested in the classmate for secondary education older children and intel tried to sell it as a replacement for the olpc which was being bought for primary school children. Can you see the distinction it's not the same target audience.

      Intel got greedy (or confused), if they had not chosen to go after the primary school market with the classmate and stuck with the secondary schools they two laptops would compliment each oth
      • by coolGuyZak ( 844482 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @11:47AM (#21932454)

        You can only wonder if Intel did this to appease its biggest customer, Microsoft.

        Sit down, and wrap your head around the idea of sales. Salespeople are typically paid by commission. The more they sell, the more they earn. They also have quotas. If they don't sell enough in a given time span, they're terminated. Salespeople think short-term; they think tactics; they think until the end of the sale. They think, "If I don't get the sale I move on, and so does the other guy. It's just business." Long term, strategic goals don't enter the picture (that's marketing). And this isn't stupid or callous, it's what the job requires of them.

        In Intel's case, a saleswoman saw an opportunity to push more product. She took it, it blew up in her face, and Intel gets to scrub the fallout. The story ends there. So please, do us a favor and cut the Microsoft conspiracy a break.

        • 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?

      • In Peru, where One Laptop has begun shipping the first 40,000 PCs of a 270,000 system order, Isabelle Lama, an Intel saleswoman, tried to persuade Peru's vice minister of education, Oscar Becerra Tresierra, that the Intel Classmate PC was a better choice for his primary school students.

        It might be ungenerous to charge INTEL as a whole for the actions of one loose-cannon sales-droid, might be better to fire the cannon and decimate the sales department in Peru, then the next time Corporate signs a partnership

    • by v1 ( 525388 )
      it rather sounds like Intel used their partnership with OLPC to get their foot in the door in a market that was one of OLPC's exclusive targets. Good business partners do not try to make inroads into the bread and butter of their other business partners. It'd be the same if OLPC started assembling a team to create their own custom processors for OLPC. It'd be a slap to the face.

  • No surprise here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:34AM (#21931610)
    I'm sure Intel is going to get lots of hate posts here. And most of that will be because a lot of people fail to see one important issue.

    Intel is a for-profit corporation beholden to its stock profit, stock holders get pissed, executives get thrown out. OLPC is a non-profit that doesn't have to worry about making money, and in fact can lose money as one is looking for a profit.

    The first reply I saw here made a comment about Intel throwing away good will by not selling OLPC chips at a big discount. Here's a news flash for you people...stock holders mostly don't give squat about good will. Good will does not increase the bottom line of their stock portfolio or give them a fat dividend check.

    Intel is not a charity. AMD can work with OLPC because AMD is in second place and is willing to do anything to *be* Intel. Likewise, Negroponte (I've gotta put that guy's name in my spell checker), while his goals are commendable and I really do hope OLPC succeeds, is not being realistic as far as the business side of it goes in regards to Intel.
    • 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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        At the annual meeting, shareholders can ask questions. Sure, if you've only got a few votes, you'll be brushed off - but embarrassing answers have a tendency to wind up on blogs, and in reports by special interest groups.

        Of course, you can go one better, and phone up your pension fund today, and ask about their investment policies, their exclusionary list, their set of standards for Corporate social responsibility. When pension funds, who often own percentage-stakes in companies, speak up - or worse, band t
    • 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.
    • Re:No surprise here (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:59AM (#21931730)
      Bullshit. Sorry!

      I'm sick and tired of this hard-nosed extreemist capitalist view. It's bullshit, pure and simple. Take a look at what you're actually saying - competing with and screwing over a charity is really bad form. You people need to remember that capitalism is NOT PERFECT, and worshipping it's principles as if they were the most fundamental rules in the universe is really dumb.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "Good will does not increase the bottom line"

      Oh really? Is that why many annual reports will give good will a dollar value?

      Good will is an investment, generally a long term one. No surprise that the stock market is generally focused on short term profit.
    • 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.

    • by Arimus ( 198136 )
      Hm, before the wave of I hate stockholders.... remember one thing: those of you with pensions or other investments are probably putting money into the corporate stockholders portfolios so before you say shareholders == bad think: no share profits, no dividends and you'll have less return == lower pensions etc.

      Sadly these days none of us with realistic pension plans etc are free of the taint of shareholder status.
    • 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 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.
    • Being a business is not mutually exclusive with being ethical.

      I would also argue that good will can increase the bottom line. This is why many companies promote the idea that they take part in charity projects.

      And to claim Negroponte is being unrealistic? Would a better course of action be to encourage Intel in undermining the success of OLPC? It would seem to me that Intel is being unreasonable trying to undermine the project while being on the board.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sjofi ( 307114 )
      selling goods at affordable prices in developing countries does not imply that the company would not make profit for it's shareholders doing so. look at mobile phones, in few short years the subscription base has risen to over 3b. That's half of the planets population and includes a lot of ppl in the developing countries. the trend is there is continuing, mobile phone prices are decreasing and are thus all the time more affordable.

      this has been possible because the mobile phone companies, most notably nokia
    • Criticism of Intel (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Morosoph ( 693565 )

      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 mean

    • by WGR ( 32993 )
      Actually, I think resigning from the OLPC project is probably going to harm Intel more than help them. They are now in the position of having AMD being seen as the most viable supplier of processors for educational laptops. Instead of getting the high end sales in Peru for secondary schools, they get no sales and piss off their customers. Intel has alienated so many possible customers, they will have great difficulty increasing sales at all.

      AMD may not be making a profit on OLPC, but it is getting free adve
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      >>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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bmajik ( 96670 )
      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
  • The poorest (Score:5, Funny)

    by BPPG ( 1181851 ) <> on Sunday January 06, 2008 @09:35AM (#21931614)
    I hope it's not really "the poorest children" that are getting the laptops. You can't eat a laptop. Give them to the second poorest.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Znork ( 31774 )
      "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.

      • An ineffective means to an end, however noble, imo. To offer a counterpoint to what you said: I really hate it when people defend the OLPC project like it's actually going to make a difference. It's not going to, and it's the biggest waste of money I've ever seen (well, the biggest one not run by the US government...). People who are in dire need are far more likely to sell their OLPC laptops to others in order to pay for necessities than to actually use them, and I don't blame them either. It's what I'd do
        • Wasn't that the excuse for excluding blacks from education? It won't help them because they aren't capable of learning. The fact is that systems can evolve and priming the pump works. To deny the possibility of change and betterment is akin to mental depression. Perhaps Zoloft would help.
          • Excuse me, aren't we an ass this morning. First: I said that the really badly-off people would be uninterested in a laptop, because they have bigger and better priorities, not that they're unable to learn. Second: I do not deny the possibility of change and betterment, merely claim that this is a poor way to bring it about. Third: I'm not depressed, and that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, so what the hell's your point? Ah, I get it. You probably don't have one, and are just being snarky. Well, th
    • 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.

    • There was a guy in France who ate a whole bicycle. He powdered it and mixed it into his food for a year.

      The laptop is RoHS-compliant, so you don't have to worry about toxic stuff like mercury and lead.

      Just Eat It.
  • You probably have heard the phrase "we are not a charity, we are a business" before, I am certain. Well, this is the case.

    OLPC is a charity, not a business.
    Intel is a business, not a charity.

    (using the word "charity" to get the phrase going, there are of course better sounding ones)

    • OLPC is a charity, not a business.

      Intel is a business, not a charity.

      That's a very depressing way of looking at things, you neither need nor have too act like an asshole in order to make money surely? I'm sure there must some middle ground in any case.

      • by joto ( 134244 )
        You can't have lived long in the real world, if that's what you find "very depressing". Personally, I can't for the life of me see that it's possible to view this in any other way, but I'm far from cynic enough to make money in the real world, as a salesman. No sir, I live from my paycheck sent to me from a company who is willing to pay me so they can exploit my time and abilities. But if you believe you can make it in the world of business-deals yourself, with a soft heart, feel free to try.
        • I've lived in the real world long enough to know exactly what I said - that the world isn't made of finites and divided into black and white. There is absolutely no reason why there cannot be middle ground between charity and business, as is shown by the other OLPC board members.

  • 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. []

    I hope Negroponte & company sues for breach of contract.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mboverload ( 657893 )
      "Intel was unwilling to work cooperatively with OLPC on software development. Over the entire six months it was a member of the association, Intel contributed nothing of value to OLPC: Intel never contributed in any way to our engineering efforts and failed to provide even a single line of code to the XO software efforts - even though Intel marketed its products as being able to run the XO software. The best Intel could offer in regards to an "Intel inside" XO laptop was one that would be more expensive and
    • by kie ( 30381 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @10:15AM (#21931842) Homepage Journal
      For those too lazy to click to see the official response, (which is pretty damning):

      We at OLPC have been disappointed that Intel did not deliver on any of the promises they made when they joined OLPC; while we were hopeful for a positive, collaborative relationship, it never materialized.

      Intel came in late to the OLPC association: they joined an already strong and thriving OLPC Board of Directors made up of premier technology partners; these partners have been crucial in helping us fulfill our mission of getting laptops into the hands of children in the developing world. We have always embraced and welcomed other low-cost laptop providers to join us in this mission. But since joining the OLPC Board of Directors in July, Intel has violated its written agreement with OLPC on numerous occasions. Intel continued to disparage the XO laptop in nations that had already decided to partner with OLPC (Uruguay and Peru), with countries that were in the midst of choosing a laptop solution (Brazil and Nigeria), and other countries contemplating a laptop program (Mongolia).

      Intel was unwilling to work cooperatively with OLPC on software development. Over the entire six months it was a member of the association, Intel contributed nothing of value to OLPC: Intel never contributed in any way to our engineering efforts and failed to provide even a single line of code to the XO software efforts - even though Intel marketed its products as being able to run the XO software. The best Intel could offer in regards to an "Intel inside" XO laptop was one that would be more expensive and consume more power - exactly the opposite direction of OLPC's stated mandate and vision.

      Despite OLPC's best efforts to work things out with Intel and several warnings that their behavior was untenable, it is clear that Intel's heart has never been in working collaboratively as a part of OLPC. This is well illustrated by the way in which our separation was announced singlehandedly by Intel; Intel issued a statement to the press behind our backs while simultaneously asking us to work on a joint statement with them. Actions do speak louder than words in this case. As we said in the past, we view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market.

      The benefit to the departure of Intel from the OLPC board is a renewed clarity in purpose and the marketplace; we will continue to focus on our mission of providing every child with an opportunity for learning.

    • I'm somewhat sympathetic to Intel. If the goal is providing broader access to technology, it should not matter who manufacturers the devices as long as the choice is reasonable and non-corrupt. If Negroponte cannot provide a more attractive computer than Intel... what value is the organization really providing?
  • 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.
  • If your competitor has a signed order from a customer, you shouldn't try to sell in such a way as to break up the contract. You can bid for the next contract, of course.
  • TFA: "If I can sell 1.5 million computers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Ethiopia, I will feel a lot better than other sales we might make."

    It seems that there is no need to characterize the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Ethiopia might not be so much in focus, thus it might be interesting to give a quote []: "The United States has quietly poured weapons and military advisers into Ethiopia, whose recent invasion of Somalia opened a new front in the Bush administration's war on terrorism.
    A Christian-led na
  • I've never seen an Intel branded machine. I remember the crappy "Intel Inside" stickers, but I haven't seen a specific Intel machine. Wouldn't it piss off the OEMs? OK, I guess the Classmate PC is it.
  • OLPC has helped to define a market (actually, it seems more like they discovered it, the more I read), and now when someone else sets up shop next door, they cry foul. There's room for Coke and Pepsi, McDonalds and Burger King, and Starbucks and the locals, why not in the third world?

    Think of it this way: If a church has a homeless shelter, it is a good thing. If a businessman sees the chance to offer a flophouse for a few bucks a week, it is a bad thing. Either way, the homeless are off the streets at nigh
  • OLPC can blame itself... Comeon, letting Intel sit on it's board as a partner? It's like Colonel Sanders admintting a fox on it's board!!!!
  • 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 ArtDent ( 83554 ) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @01:34PM (#21933308)
    Reading this article made my blood boil. Intel very clearly acted in bad faith, and their actions against OLPC will no doubt result in poor kids being deprived of access to technology. Immediately, my thoughts turned to the business I've given Intel and whether I could ever buy from them again.

    But my second, more constructive thought was "what can I do to help OLPC?" and I easily found two great answers.

    1. Donate. [] For just $200, you can give an XO laptop to a child in a developing nation. It immediately makes a difference in the life of one child, and it's an opportunity for the XO to prove itself. Our donations no doubt will drive future sales for OLPC. Donations are entirely tax-deductible (Question: does anyone know they're tax-deductible for Canadians?).

    2. Develop. [] If you're a programmer, you can donate some of your time and work on an XO Activity. There's already a pretty impressive array of available software [], but there's lots of room for work, and this is one way that OLPC can really differentiate itself. Think about it: thousands of passionate hackers contributing quality free software, all targeted at this machine. That's something that Intel and Microsoft will never be able to compete with because no one else is ever going to be passionate about Classmate & Windows.

    Let's make a difference!
  • "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.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye