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Rory Cellan-Jones

Intel says bye to One Laptop

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 4 Jan 08, 09:42 GMT

Sitting in Gatwick airport waiting for a flight to Las Vegas, news comes through that Intel has dropped out of the One Laptop Per Child Project.

To me and Jonathan Fildes, the BBC technology correspondent who has followed this more closely than just about any other reporter, this does not come as a great surprise.

We travelled to Nigeria in November to report on OLPC’s pilot project at a school there. We were impressed by the enthusiasm of the children using the laptops and the commitment of the teachers but were concerned that a lack of technical and financial support might stop the whole project from taking off. The children were showing remarkable ingenuity in mending broken laptops – but the bill for the internet connection was about to land on the head teacher’s desk and it wasn’t clear how it would be paid.

By contrast, across town, Intel was pouring large sums into a pilot of its rival Classmate project in a school which had been virtually rebuilt around the computers. The company insisted that it was collaborating with OLPC and had no desire to crowd it out of the new market for cheap computing in the developing world.

But Intel’s arrival as a participant in the charity project came very late, and after criticism that it was acting to frustrate the aims of OLPC. Now Intel has dropped out after OLPC reportedly demanded that it ended its involvement in the Classmate PC. Intel was never going to drop a project which had the personal backing of Craig Barret, Intel’s chairman, who’d visited the shiny new Nigerian school a few days before we filmed there.

OLPC was always going to face an uphill battle when confronted with a mighty corporation like Intel. Now it has suffered another crushing blow to its efforts to put what was supposed to be the $100 laptop in the hands of millions of children. Only last week chief designer Mary Lou Jepsen stepped down from the project.

We’ll be talking to the OLPC’s founder Nicholas Negroponte and to Intel’s Paul Otellini in Las Vegas.


Comments

  • 1.
  • At 10:55 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Martin wrote:

For some years I have been waiting for my ideal laptop. This would be the size (and hopefully weight) of a bound A4 writing book. The majority of the weight of a laptop is in the hard drive and the battery. Do away with the hard drive and you can reduce the battery weight.

The OLPC has been an excellent project, however I feel they are losing out on funding by not producing and selling a commercial version of the OLPC. This machine has a number of inovative features that would be wonderful on a mobile laptop. These include flash memory (such as the Asus eee), a screen that can be read outdoors and swicthes from colour to B&W to save battery power. The Buy-2-give-1 excersie was carried out only in the US and people in the UK didnt have the chance to particpate. Perhaps a black version should be produced for selling commercially as for one would be loathe to walk into a company with a brightly coloured OLPC under my arm.

Good luck to those still involved in the project.

  • 2.
  • At 11:23 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Michael Hughes wrote:

The move from OLPC seems purely driven by thier ego to promote thier product, rather than a desire to see all children have access to laptops.

The original aims of the project seem to be shadowed by tactics that are similar to commercial strategies rather than philanthropy.

Intel were never going to agree to this, you could almost describe this as constructive dismissal.

This is so sad, I hope another company steps up to help OLPC out. I also hope Intel lives to regret their decision.

Guy

  • 4.
  • At 12:53 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Chatan wrote:

This shows how evil the corporate the IT industry has become.

OLPC was a great idea to make IT accessible to the very poor, and to aid the education of people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to do so.

However, the actions of Intel and Microsoft (to name just two) have shown that money is more important than education and general advancement of humanity. Instead of backing a great idea, they divide and cause maximum disruption.

I am not against making money, but with companies like these who are willing to put money before anything else, we will never reach the potential that we as humans can become.

It's a very sad state of affairs, and one which makes me frustrated!

Chatan

  • 5.
  • At 01:36 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Russell wrote:

I disagree with comments that the OLPC project is worthwhile. In a few years laptops with better components will be commercially available for a lower price. While children in Africa are dying every minute due to filthy water, this project is wasting money that could be used FAR more usefully.

The only thing Intel can be blamed for is the timing. The request that they abandon their own Classmate was ludicrous and left them with little choice. Poor decision by a poor team with a poor idea.

  • 6.
  • At 01:44 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Russell wrote:

I disagree with comments that the OLPC project is worthwhile. In a few years laptops with better components will be commercially available for a lower price. While children in Africa are dying every minute due to filthy water, this project is wasting money that could be used FAR more usefully.

The only thing Intel can be blamed for is the timing. The request that they abandon their own Classmate was ludicrous and left them with little choice. Poor decision by a poor team with a poor idea.

  • 7.
  • At 01:51 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • D Dortman wrote:

Intel were clearly only paying lip-service to this and in no way were going to take a hit in the pocketbook of their own "cheap" laptop. And make no mistake the developing world is seen as a market now, not as place to help children charitably. There's simply too much potential profit for the future there.

  • 8.
  • At 01:55 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • D Dortman wrote:

Intel were clearly only paying lip-service to this and in no way were going to take a hit in the pocketbook of their own "cheap" laptop. And make no mistake the developing world is seen as a market now, not as place to help children charitably. There's simply too much potential profit for the future there.

  • 9.
  • At 02:00 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • David wrote:

Constructive dismissal yes, maybe; but borne of fundamental "philosophical" disagreements (i.e. one side has a philosophy, but the other doesn't).
The OLPC project certainly is philanthropic, and much more so than Intel can claim to be.
Rather than ego, it might be that OLPC are taken aback by the competitive practices of Intel (and Microsoft).
Academics and philanthropists have a different ethos from commerce, and so OLPC may be feeling defensive after being undermined in this way.
They attempted to make friends, inviting Intel onto the board, but it was a long shot, and the friendship soon broke.
It was not meant to be: oh well.
While licking their wounds, OLPC can congratulate themselves on shaking Intel and others into life, attracted by the PR opportunity, and in a way actually helping out with the project aims.
Kudos to Negroponte for his philanthropic vision, and for leading business where it never thought to go.

Yes, it is truly awful when a corporation says one thing but does another.

Just wondering why, with climate change and all, the BBC felt the need for two technology correspondents (you can never have enough of those to promote endless new consumer must-have juice gobblers) to go to the same far flung outpost?

Speaking of which, I hope Las Vegas is nice this time of year, too.

  • 11.
  • At 02:22 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • ashokpai wrote:

Intel was a reluctant entrant into the OLPC club. they are pretty much like microsoft when it comes to controlling the market. I really thank my stars that AMD is around to give intel some competition and beat them too. the whole OLPC project has been taken offensively by intel as seeing it as a product that has its rival's processor. then on they have never been thinking clearly. Intel is almost always way too expensive, since the last 9 years. AMD has always delivered value, and thats the reason they find themselves in the OLPC. i wish negroponte continued and greater success.

  • 12.
  • At 03:21 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Charles Smyth wrote:

The OlPC was a politically driven nonesense designed to deny the developing world the energy with which to make use of proper laptops and associated IT technology at our expense. It's demise is to be welcomed, not mourned.

It is truly a shame that people are unable to see this in true light of what it is. Its an educational project of which a laptop is a part of it. Many many people have been inspired by the simple ethos of this project and in particular the way that most of the tech community has got behind it. It is such a shame that greed-based decisions and lawsuits are occurring when for once, it would have been nice to see the world truly get behind this worthwhile and needed project. Sad day for the program but I am confident that it will survive.

  • 14.
  • At 03:51 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Cliff wrote:

This is a stupid project. These kids need a laptop like they need a blender. Try giving them clean water and bathroom facilities. Or how about netting to prevent malaria.

While this project is in it's nice new and fun part wait a few years when the laptops are busted, stolen and left on the side of some road.

No one likes to talk about that since reality is nowhere to be found in this project.

If you cover this more than any other reporter then keep at it and give us an update when the project fails.

  • 15.
  • At 03:51 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Robert wrote:

Intel, as part of the OLPC effort to put a laptop in the hands of each child, could have contributed mightily by dropping its direct competition with the XO. If, that is, Intel joined the OLPC with that effort in mind. Which it obviously didn't.

As usual, the ensuing "competition" will primarily benefit first-world consumers and profit the corporation which will undoubtedly do everything to win.

Woohoo.

  • 16.
  • At 05:49 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Cliff wrote:

A waste of money and time.

Why not spend some money on stuff like clean water and improved sanitation for millions that use the local bush as a toilet.

Or how about nets to stop the malaria mosquitoes from getting to the people when the sleep???

In a few years these laptops will be on the side of the road as junk or stolen. It will be a massive waste of money.

Only stupid arrogant people living in their ivory towers could believe that this is a good idea.

If you are the only reporters covering this then keep it up. Come back in a few years and tell us what a monumental failure this ill conceived project was.

  • 17.
  • At 05:56 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Mark McAndrew wrote:

Give someone a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them how to fish, they eat for life.

OLPC is the ultimate teaching tool, with info on how to do absolutely anything known to man.

Information is power. Give the next generation unlimited access to the Internet and they will sort all their own problems out.

OLPC is a brilliant project, Negroponte is a revolutionary genius and Intel, as it turns out, are complete and utter scum. My next PC will be AMD-powered (and the one after that, and the one after that, etc, etc).

  • 18.
  • At 06:01 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • RMalcolm wrote:

It seems to me that Intel and Microsoft (MS) have entertained an unstated partnership for many years. Each creates market demand for the other's products. At present, open source software is the biggest threat to MS' existence and Intel sees its future in bigger, faster processors for which it can charge more. The OLPC project stands to create a huge market for computers running low-profit processors and open source software.

What better way to spike OLPC than to get onto its board of directors with a promise of major support, learn their long term strategy and who the driving forces are, then quit the project at the most awkward moment. It makes launching a rival product so much easier.

Looking at their board and what they have done so far I can say they have not achieved much.
I know of at least one company (well, mine - tgi-sci.com) which can do what they have been trying to do at a fraction of the time and cost it has taken them so (not very...) far.
If this has ever been about bringing out a product, that is.

  • 20.
  • At 06:50 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Brenda Schmitt wrote:

I'm glad Intel backed out! There's so much these kids NEED, a laptop is not one of them.
Give them a laptop after they have clean water to drink, enough food to eat & medicine so they don't have to die from simple infections.
And what about a book? It' easier to use and it doesn't need internet connection & battery power to use.


  • 21.
  • At 08:10 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Valdemar Van Hout wrote:

There once was a mother turtle that sought to escape a forest fire with its young. In order to keep its children safe, the mother knew that it only needed to take them across a river which flowed along the boundary of the burning forest. Yet despite its determination, the mother turtle was a slow moving beast and to make matters worse, could only move as fast as its slowest child.
The blaze though, was relentless in its hunger and threatened to once more snuff out this generation of life as it had done so many times before.
Luckily though, within moments of being overwhelmed by the fire's hunger, the mother turtle and all of its young were able to reach the river's shore. The turtle quickly tested the river's temperature and once it found it to be warm, opened its mouth to order its children across. But, just as the mother turtle uttered her first syllable, a cry came from further down the riverbank. The turtle told its frightened children to wait.
There was no need to leave the spot, for slithering towards her, came a snake with frantic desperation in his eyes.
"I can't swim!" cried the snake. "I haven't yet learned how to swim! Please, Dear Turtle, swim me across the river so that I too can live! And afterwards, I'll protect your family until you have a new home!"
The turtle cast a glance at the red and yellow blaze that approached before nodding and saying, "climb onto my shell friend snake! Make haste! Together, with my help, you too will find safety!"
With that, the turtle, the snake and the children began to cross the river.
"Quit squirming," the turtle ordered the snake as it swam...
But, when they had reached the other side of the river, the turtle counted its young and found that one was missing! The mother quickly looked to the snake and asked, "friend snake! Have you seen where my child went? I fear that he was swept away by the river's current!"
"No. I saw nothing," the snake swallowed and said.
"You ate my child!," cried the mother turtle. Her voice thick with distraught.
The snake's forked tongue wagged like the Devil's tail and the beast hissed at the turtle's frightened young. Then, oblivious to the mother's shock and concern, the snake coiled to attack another child!
"Why did you do this? Why do you do this?" the turtle cried. "I saved your life!"
The snake eyed the turtle evenly and bluntly said, "look here OLPC. You knew I was Intel."

Looking at their board and what they have done so far I can say they have not achieved much.
I know of at least one company which can do what they have been trying to do at a fraction of the time and cost it has taken them so (not very...) far.
If this has ever been about bringing out a product, that is.

  • 23.
  • At 08:26 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Gee wrote:

It is so funny that people in the west feel African kids do not deserve IT literacy. It is the same stupid argument from bill gates that African kids are dying of diseases. Do they think people here die of diseases or the lack of knowledge to manage whatever situation they find themselves. The so called democracy the west has been peddling all over the world just to be in control has caused more damages than good in Africa. Look at Kenya; people dying because of democracy. Don't you westerners think it would have been a different situation if all could learn about things other than what is being taught in schools? Well, OLPC is the best thing that could ever happen to Africa and I pray all those big businesses that are against this project come to ruin in Jesus name.

This is by a concerned African (Nigerian), living in Africa.

  • 24.
  • At 08:27 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Mark McAndrew wrote:

Give someone a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them how to fish, they eat for life.

OLPC is the ultimate teaching tool, with info on how to do absolutely anything known to man.

Information is power. Give the next generation unlimited access to the Internet and they will sort all their own problems out.

OLPC is a brilliant project, Negroponte is a revolutionary genius and Intel, as it turns out, are complete and utter scum. My next PC will be AMD-powered (and the one after that, and the one after that, etc, etc).

This is indeed a worthwhile educational project I've been following for years.

It's not a health nor a clean water initiative - leave that to Starbucks (Ethos H20) and some other state or private funded NGO.

|& for another thread; your rants to those regards aren't applicable to this topic|

Negroponte should seek the help of a variety of foundations. He should also sue Intel for proprietary information theft.

(Where's Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy when you need them?)

He's got a great idea that was usurped by Intel for profit - sad indeed.

Intel will pay in negative karma, give it time.

  • 26.
  • At 08:43 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Brenda Schmitt wrote:

Clean Water & medicine! That's what these kids need! Not a Laptop!
And if the argument is about education, give these kids books to read/like an encyclopedia. It doesn't need internet connection and battery power.


  • 27.
  • At 09:31 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Okyar Ozcan wrote:

Young children do math spontaneously in their lives and in their play. We've all seen preschoolers exploring shapes and patterns, drawing and creating geometric designs, taking joy in recognizing and naming specific shapes they see.
Young children tend to form static images — still mental pictures they can refer to. Older children are learning to form dynamic images that they can move or change.
As children learn about the structure of shapes and space, they are building on what they already know. But we must all keep in mind that children learn these ideas most effectively through active engagement with toys, blocks, puzzles, manipulatives.
First the children in the developing world must learn how to live by playing real objects like toys,blocks,and between each other.
Think about a set of blocks. They don't talk, play music or light up. Instead they teach a variety of basic skills of life.
Blocks don't require batteries.The last thing must be giving them laptop.

  • 28.
  • At 09:42 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Okyar Ozcan wrote:

Young children do math spontaneously in their lives and in their play. We've all seen preschoolers exploring shapes and patterns, drawing and creating geometric designs, taking joy in recognizing and naming specific shapes they see.
Young children tend to form static images — still mental pictures they can refer to. Older children are learning to form dynamic images that they can move or change.
As children learn about the structure of shapes and space, they are building on what they already know. But we must all keep in mind that children learn these ideas most effectively through active engagement with toys, blocks, puzzles, manipulatives.
First the children in the developing world must learn how to live by playing real objects like toys,blocks,and between each other.
Think about a set of blocks. They don't talk, play music or light up. Instead they teach a variety of basic skills of life.
Blocks don't require batteries.The last thing must be giving them laptop.

  • 29.
  • At 09:59 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 30.
  • At 10:03 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 31.
  • At 10:06 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 32.
  • At 10:08 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 33.
  • At 10:09 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 34.
  • At 10:10 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 35.
  • At 10:14 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 36.
  • At 10:15 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • John wrote:

None of these IT firms should be there. Western kids sit on their ass getting fat playing violent games, use IM instead of building proper social skills talking face to face, and potentially view adult sites which we haven't seen the long term effects of yet. Do we wish this on a developing country? NO! The west thinks it has all the answers - it doesn't! How narrow minded to assume the rest of the world wants to copy everything we do. By all means offer these countries help - but on their terms, not ours. Health care, sanitation, security, employment, education - these are more likely the kind of things required. This project (OLPC & Intel) is ripe for abuse, just a matter of time before BBC tells us about it.

  • 37.
  • At 10:26 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Joe wrote:

I am sad that these two organizations could not find enough common ground to contiue to work together.

If reports that OLPC was demanding exclusivity for their platform as a condition of participation in the prodct are true, shame on them. This "your with us or your against us" attitude is not a good way to go about getting things done. Reportedly, there are 2 billion people using connected computers. That leaves 5 billion people in the world. One solution be it XO, classmate, or eePC will not meet all needs. I believe that the more solutions that are available the quicker all players will grow and adapt to meet the needs. I want to see as many organizations with as many buisness models and as many solutions as possible. The more tries we make at a problem the more likely we are to find the best solution.

“It's an education project, not a laptop project” by Nicholas Negroponte does sound hollow on the news of the Intel-OLPC split but a project such as this needed collaborations and partnerships that have never been thought of before which is why Michael Hughes' comments (#2) above echoes a lot of people's perception of this end game. My NO to OLPC was not about the cool educational tool but its marketing which a poor effort compared to the talents on the production team.

OLPC should have be preparing for the coming (Intel, Microsoft, New Entrants) price wars in order to be in position to achieve the economies of scale required for a $100 laptop. My money is still on OLPC who may have forgotten about the social responsibilities and made the sales pitch but the associated costs of training the teachers (a huge number on strike over salary arrears) is still wanting.

There are many more USPs that will help olpc eat Intel's lunch in Africa and the rest of the third world. The carriers: in a country where over 60% live below the poverty line, 256 kilobits per second (kbps)costs about $900 a month on top of $1500 for equipment equals qu'ils mangent de la brioche (let them eat cake). How do we educate the policymakers?

  • 39.
  • At 11:50 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Dave Johnson wrote:

I find it odd to see Intel attacked for producing a better, lower cost product than the OLPC camel. If it is true that we wish low cost computers in the hands of children in developing countries, wouldn't we want the best, least expensive sytem supported by a producer who can handle the volume of demand and sets the standard for the industry? I believe these children should be taught on systems that will enable them to easily integrate and upgrade. Do we care about incentive and motivation (which are unknown, mostly perception and ad hominem argument) or results? Bravo Intel.

For me this project shot itself in the foot by not allowing UK and the wider world purchasing the laptop.

Jamie

  • 41.
  • At 04:38 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • Nathan Dayton wrote:

To me this is "much ado about nothing". It is an interesting but flawed project where the originators have failed to think it fully through. With out food, health care and electricity the need for a computer is close to ZERO. Oh Yes, where is the internet connectivity coming from?

I do not know about the rest of the world but in the US 2 year old laptops can be had for less with far more capability.

Most of the world got educated without the Internet, books and teachers work fine.

What do these people plan to do in 5 years when the technology has changed and every thing in these units is unavailable to repair them?

After all that I have said I an not against the project but do not expect it to achieve anything especially with people willing to point fingers at everyone but themselves for the poorly thought out project's probable failure.

I fail to see how Intel's non-involvement in the project seriously damage it's future? This whole issue has been blown out of proportion - Intel was late to join the project, didn't have any input to the final product, and the current OLPC doesn't even contain any Intel technology. It's not like they were even aiding the promotion or funding of the project...

  • 43.
  • At 05:28 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • UM wrote:

Maybe the BBC should fix this blog first, then we can talk about technology :)

I tried sending a comment yesterday, with no success. I can see some posts have been published multiple times, so there is an error in the BBC servers.

One Laptop Project? It won't happen, but $100 laptop will be a reality in the next 5-10 years. Chipsets and flash memory are getting cheaper everyday, if the screen prices follow, designing a portable computer for $100 will be a reality.

Software will probably require 10 times more of human time than the hardware itself, and it is going to be costly. Open source project like Linux might finally take off, and be the force I expect them to be.

On the other hand, what do I know? The face of portable computing might be completely different than today. Even certain Mr Gates thought computers would never have more than 16kb (not sure about the number) of RAM.

So the Bill Broadcasting Corporation is breathlessly (the breathlessness is sheer desire, of course, but in a nice, non-sexual, way) for another interview with Bill Gates, their main sponsor apart from the helpless taxpayer.

How very predictable and so uninteresting. Of course the upper reaches of BBC technology are littered with Microsoft fanboys (take a bow Ashley Highfield and Eric Huggers, who was a top Microsoft executive) so this is probably why the BBC is cosying up to Gates for the nth time.

Is it really good enough to syphon tens of millions of UK public money into an American near-monopoly via the Bill Broadcasting Corporation?

Remember that we could create re-usable software in the BBC (and thus have value for public money, apart from the enormous hip/karmic effect), if they decided to turn away from the dark side.

I’m waiting for an interview with Torvalds or Larry Wall (you know why this would be, don’t you, guys?), for example. Ha, as if THAT would happen.

  • 45.
  • At 06:54 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • Frankie wrote:

This laptop undermines the profitability of the entire computer industry.

My friend just bought a vista laptop with 2GB of RAM and 2 processor cores: He was disappointed with it's slow performance... what a joke!
Is it not surprising then that these companies are scared when a machine comes along that shows us there is a simpler solution for simple computing needs. Intel made record profits from selling laptop CPUs the last thing the need is for people to go back to one core and just use a laptop for web surfing and emails.

  • 46.
  • At 10:36 AM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • Marian wrote:

What a shame that yet again, profit for the few has outweighed any moral and ethical consideration.

  • 47.
  • At 01:20 PM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

No surprise about this news. After all, Intel is closely alligned to the twin "Evil Empires" of Microsoft and Apple, so any project not based around those corporations was highly unlikely to be properly backed by Intel.

  • 48.
  • At 04:10 PM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • Chatan wrote:

This shows how evil the corporate the IT industry has become.

OLPC was a great idea to make IT accessible to the very poor, and to aid the education of people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to do so.

However, the actions of Intel and Microsoft (to name just two) have shown that money is more important than education and general advancement of humanity. Instead of backing a great idea, they divide and cause maximum disruption.

I am not against making money, but with companies like these who are willing to put money before anything else, we will never reach the potential that we as humans can become.

It's a very sad state of affairs, and one which makes me frustrated!

Chatan
Update: To prove my point:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/technology/05laptop.html?ex=1357189200&en=9c2c17178c11e828&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

  • 49.
  • At 05:47 PM on 14 Jan 2008,
  • Duncan wrote:

I would be interested in knowing what the OLPC hoped to gain from this project given that Intel, in close partnership with Microsoft are fighting a furious battle to save their futures. OS software is gathering pace in terms of the stability and quality of software. With this initiative having a potential to open up a huge market both in users and developers without scope for embracing the Microsoft licence stranglehold, they stand to lose a great deal.

I see a few posters happy to comment on the "helpless" African that can only hope for clean water and mosquito nets. Well although that may be the case for a minority, a huge number would benefit from access to the information available on the Internet. If you doubt me ask any child who uses the Internet for their homework. For sure it will be abused by some but this is a side issue.

This project while flawed is a brave step into reaching a huge mass of people untouched by new technology that could help boost their advancement. It will hopefully achieve some success and provide a catalyst for future projects to address problems such as developing countries' Internet infrastructure that eventually help developing countries develop their economic self reliance.

I found John Naughton's take in this week's Observer interesting.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/jan/13/computing

He says of OLPC's 'partner':

"It was a strange marriage. The first big contract signed by OLPC was with the government of Peru, which bought 300,000 XOs. Its vice-minister for education was then visited by an Intel salesperson, who is said to have comprehensively disparaged the little green machine. The politician apparently took notes of the exchange, which he then shared with Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of the OLPC project, who shared them with Fortune magazine. 'It was unbelievable,' according to Negroponte. '"The XO doesn't work, and you have no idea the mistake you've made. You'll get into big trouble", that kind of stuff. We kept the sale, but when one of your partners does that, what do you do?'"

Here was a clear attempt to sabotage the project. By a mega-corporation furious that a huge market was being denied it, and too blinded to see that the future markets resulting from a succesful OLPC would benefit them much more.

It is also surely no co-incedence that the windows machine is favoured by the most authoritarian educational systems.

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