In his 60 Minutes interview, Negroponte says that "Yes, Intel has hurt the mission enormously," while in a recent lecture at MIT he accused Intel of trying to sell Classmates below cost just to dissuade governments from committing to OLPC. Professor Negroponte's summation of all this?:
"Intel should be ashamed of itself. It’s just – it’s just shameless."Actually, no, Dr. Negroponte, its not shameless at all, its competition. Beneficial competition for everyone involved: OLPC, Intel, and the developing world.
First off, the pressure from Intel has made OLPC more responsive to government realities. Gone is Negroponte' arrogance around only dealing with heads of state and only for one million unit orders. He is now more open to different stakeholders and more manageable laptop lots. Gone is a Constructionist focus from the OLPC mission statement, replaced by a new-found focus on educational content.
Next, Intel is engaging in the All-American game of catch-up to the OLPC thought leadership. Intel is increasing its focus on the developing world as a real market, by developing new computing products like the Classmate PC. It is also centering the World Ahead program on the developing world outside of India and China. Last but not least, OLPC has broken Intel from its Microsoft myopia, spurring a Linux Classmate PC.
Now the real winners in this competition are the people in the developing world. Two or three years ago, neither Intel nor AMD considered them a worthy market to develop product for. "Emerging markets" would get the developed world's end-of-life products, seconds that were soon to be obsolete. Now these economies, especially their educational technology industries, are about to leapfrog into the future with clock-stopping hot technology.
And leapfrog with more than just Intel, AMD or OLPC, too. Brooke Partridge, CEO of Vital Wave Consulting, in a Tech News World interview, says:
If the OLPC and other such efforts can effectively produce low-priced machines, the overall educational computing market will see an overhaul. Some PC makers will worry about low-cost devices cannibalizing their established markets, she added, saying what works in emerging economies won't always work in mature marketplaces.So no matter what happens with One Laptop Per Child's Children's Machine XO, Intel's Classmate PC, or even Mobilis, the end result of the OLPC XO vs. Intel Classmate PC global sales effort will be a radically different educational IT landscape: the bottom of the pyramid with have top of the line technology.
"Developed-world manufacturers should not perceive this as a threat," she said. "This shift presents opportunities for traditional PC manufacturers."