Is Nicholas Negroponte Stark Raving Mad?

   
   
   
   
   

Paul Otellini + Classmate PC

Oh the Intel + OLPC drama gets better by the day! Yesterday we learned from Darren Waters that Paul Otellini felt that Nicholas Negroponte's accusations that Intel failed to live up to its agreement with OLPC were "hogwash".

When Nicholas Negroponte heard this, he posed a very valid question to why he was badmouthing Intel all over the Internets:

"Why would I throw away the six million dollars they were supposed to give us yesterday? Why would I do all of these things unless I was stark raving mad?"
Today I wonder if he is. Why? Because look what he told Dan Nystedt of IDG News Service
"It was very unfortunate what happened with Intel, and I hope there's a way of rebuilding it in the future because there's no interest in OLPC pushing Intel out. It just is not in our interest. Our goal is to get this to as many children as possible," said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of OLPC, in an interview.

He called it unfortunate that Intel made statements that OLPC asked the chipmaker to stop working on the Classmate PC. "The picture that painted was one of OLPC being anti-competition, which is ridiculous. We'd like to see as many laptops out there as possible and kids have the widest choice possible," he said.

He also said something similar to Reena Jana of BusinessWeek yesterday. But that's not what Negroponte told David Kirkpatrick early this week. Then he was very clear on OLPC's grievances:
Fortune: What's the biggest single reason your partnership with Intel fell apart?

Negroponte: The biggest single reason was that they were directly selling their Classmate laptop as opposed to having it be a reference design. They're not selling it in this country because they'd be killed by their biggest customers like Dell. But in the developing world they are selling directly. It just set them apart from every single one of our other sponsors. When Intel joined us we thought we could move toward that being a reference design more and more, and less toward them selling the Classmate itself.

olpc negroponte
What will Negroponte say now?
Nor was that what Negroponte told the BBC yesterday about Intel's activities in the developing world countries OLPC was targeting:
"They were selling laptop with their brand on it directly to exactly the same people we were talking to. They would go in even after we had signed contracts and try to persuade government officials to scrap their contract and sign a contract with them instead. That's not a partnership."
But wait a minute! Maybe Negroponte isn't mad, or at least senile. Maybe he's just suffering from an addiction himself, an addiction to the drama that comes with accusing a Fortune 500 company of being an unfaithful alcoholic:
"Each time it happened [Intel] said they would correct their ways. It's a little like cheating on your spouse, or alcoholism, or something you just can't eventually fix and we had to finally part ways."
And to add to the feeling this is a jilted lover's quarrel, now Paul Otellini is talking like he wants shared custody of the children:
"No one company, no one solution has a monopoly on kids."
True that. So while no one is enjoying this too public spat more than I, can't you two kiss, make up, and get on with the real show?

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32 Comments

addition or addiction?

Windows will be the XO's OS sooner or later. Intel will make the XO chip sooner or later. That's the only way people will take the XO seriously and Prof. Negroponte knows it. He knows he can't survive doing business with geeks alone.

The OLPC Project needs numbers and numbers can only come from the regular folks who equate "reliability" and "excellence" with "Intel Inside" and "Windows Inside" decals on their shiny new computers.

I think there is (finally!) a method to the Professor's madness. He is listening. Congratulations!

Trash talk between One Laptop and the PC crowd rages on
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9847420-7.html


Low-cost computing is here
http://www.business-standard.com/opinionanalysis/storypage.php?leftnm=lmnu5&subLeft=1&autono=310219&tab=r

Wayan, I'm cutting you some slack about the addition/addiction thing because you're probably distracted. Plus it was such an amazing statement by Mr. Negroponte.

I really don't see how Intel is relevant to the success of the OLPC. To most software, an Intel processor and AMD Geode is going to look the same (it's not like we're talking about an ARM or PPC here). From what I've been hearing, Intel also has nothing to compare for low energy consumption. So, for now, AMD is the best decision.

"Problem is, Negroponte's right-hand man, Walter Bender, supposedly recently said he would quit if the machine shipped with Windows. So the drama unfolds."

http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/2008/01/speaking-of-beast.html

Hmm..
Nicky doesn't seem to be very good at consistently explaining what he actually wants from Intel. Heck, I don't even know what *he* wants from them.

I think OLPC expected the following:
1. No DIRECT competition from Intel, even if current or future OLPC branded hardware eschews Intel products (Classmate = bad. Asus EEE = ok). Think a mutual non-aggression pact.
2. Intel hardware that meets or exceeds the capabilities of AMD's Geode and/or Marvell's 88W8388 wireless chip for a future revision of the XO.
3. Intel hardware in a hypothetical OLPC-branded, ruggedized, low-power school server.
4. Intel's clout, support and experience lent to OLPC's already considerable talent pool.

The sticking point was ostensibly number 1, but this doesn't necessarily stop #2-#4 if Intel delivers compelling hardware.

Wayan, the Beeb blog link isn't working. It's probably the 'href='/'hrf=' part of the anchor.

Maddie & Optic,

Apologies for the post errors, I'm just a little distracted at the moment by a drama that even eclipses Negroponte's apparent week-long diva drama: http://www.amyandwayan.com

Congratulations, Wayan! And thanks for this great site.

Wayan, Congratulations. Enjoy.

Amy and Wayan, sitting in a tree ...

Negroponte said: "We'd like to see as many laptops out there as possible and kids have the widest choice possible." Why would that be important for OLPC? Having "the widest choice possible" doesn't mean things will go better, or that something significant will happen. It seems that Negroponte just want everybody to love the OLPC project, no matter what will happen. At first there was clear agenda, but now there's only an "education project" with the "widest choice possible"; that sounds like business as usual. There's more choices on the market than anybody can handle in a lifetime. There's more and more new laptops and gizmos every week. There's tons of new software published everyday. The only problem is access to these wonders for the vast majority of excluded human beings. If Negroponte only want to build a bigger consumer market, then he better stop calling his project "educational". I hope that OLPC is more than a marketing project to impress geeks. I hope that children will actually do something with their XO, because they won't see all the choices available in Vegas consumer shows.

"Why would that be important for OLPC? Having "the widest choice possible" doesn't mean things will go better, or that something significant will happen."

More choice indeed means more quality. Richer and older students with ample elictrical power and broadband access have different needs than 9 year olds without power and internet access.

That I personally am unable to imagine a situation where a Classmate with XP crippled is better than an XO with Sugar does not mean that they might not exist. The world is a very large place.

And, this is about One Laptop Per Child, not One XO Per Child.

Winter

If you and the child’s other parent cannot work out the details amicably, you will have to see a judge do it. Virginia judges base custody decisions on the best interest of the child. If the custody questions arise as part of a divorce, ...

I keep asking, for I never get a reasonable answer.

Why is Intel not selling the Classmates by the shipload if their laptop, educational software, and implementation plans are so great and they really want to sell every child a laptop?

Intel wants the children of the world to have a laptop. They produce and sell their own "low cost" laptops. They even give away power generators to make up for the power consumption of their laptops. They have $1B to deliver "market incentives".

The Classmate is not really outselling the XO hundred or even ten to one. Something must be wrong in the above statments.

One commenter (ChristophD?) suggested that the Classmate is simply not a very useful machine. Charbax claims that Intel is selling them below cost and simply cannot afford to sell them in the millions.

And maybe the governments are doing the obvious, playing out the competitors against each other to get a better deal. Which is a dangerous game as the bigger company might just want to drive the smaller out of bussiness and the clients end up with a much worse, or even no, deal.

Winter

Sorry Wayan, but I find the quality of your analysis severely lacking here.

Forum readers, I would suggest you can find more balanced commentary under the Slashdot article on this story.

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/09/1352214

(Set your comment rating threshold to 4 or 5 and browse an interesting discussion.)

Anyone trying to write about Intels bussiness morals should read about the times they are in court for the same.

Currently in the EU, see "Intel responds to EU antitrust charges"
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080107-intel-responds-to-eu-antitrust-charges.html

"At issue in the antitrust dispute is Intel's alleged practice of offering hefty discounts to Intel-only shops, a practice that violates EU monopoly laws when it's done by a market leader like Intel. Luckily for Intel, its alleged habit of handing out discounts and sweet advertising subsidies through its logo program to Intel-only OEMs is not illegal in the US, though rival AMD has filed a lawsuit in civil court against the chipmaker for these and other practices."

From the claims:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072700421.html
"The European Commission claimed that Intel gave "substantial rebates" to computer makers for buying most of their x86 computer processing units, or CPUs, from Intel; that it made payments to manufacturers to get them to delay or cancel product lines using AMD chips; and that it sold its own chips below cost on average to strategic server customers on bids against AMD products to try to muscle into that business"

Doesn't that sound awfully similar to what they are doing to the OLPC to drive out AMD chips?

Winter

Irvin,

"Problem is, Negroponte's right-hand man, Walter Bender, supposedly recently said he would quit if the machine shipped with Windows. So the drama unfolds."

"supposedly" ? We all like a bit of gossip but this is just silly - but then, that's what you get when your main source of info is fake(this) or fake(that)... ;)

Here's Bender's comment:

A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?
( http://www.linux.com/feature/124323 )

"...
Walter Bender, president of the OLPC for software and content, reiterated the news from last year when we queried him about XP on the XO this morning, saying, "Microsoft has been working on an XP port, which from the little I have seen, takes good advantage of the XO display -- it doesn't feel cramped the way window systems often do on low-resolution displays."
..."

XO should be as open hardware as possible (after all, it's already open source software )- I've seen people running Xubuntu on it already (with other Linux distros sure to follow) and if some bureaucrat will feel safer explaining his purchase decision by saying ('this can run Microsoft OS too), then why not...

"Anyone trying to write about Intels bussiness morals should read about the times they are in court for the same."

I really think OLPC needs to start selling XO in the general global market to counter Intel's tactics - set the price below that of EEE and market it as not just a general, basic, computer but also an eBook reader (Classmate and other PC stands no chance here as XO is even better,in many ways, than dedicated eBook readers like Sony or Kindle!)* with a Linux version (cut down Fedora with KDE, or gOS or Xandros) with which existing (Windows) users would be more comfortable and they have a big success, I believe, on their hands.

Profits could go straight into marketing and implementation of XO in the target market (ie. 3rd World Countries) and the increased volume ensure the price even more affordable - Intel would be begging (Wayan's analogy pops in my mind :) in no time to be taken back and being part of the action... ;)


*TeleRead: Bring the E-Books, 'Home Why I favor Mary Lou’s OLPC screen tech over E Ink at least for MY purposes'
( http://www.teleread.org/blog/2008/01/05/why-i-favor-mary-lous-olpc-screen-tech-over-e-ink-at-least-for-my-purposes/#more-8344 )

An even more relevant entry from David Rothman's (eBook enthusiast) blog on XO:

TeleRead: Bring the E-Books, 'Blind to e-book possibilities, the Economist knocks the OLPC machine'
( http://www.teleread.org/blog/2008/01/09/blind-to-e-book-possibilities-economist-knocks-the-olpc-machine/ )

"...
The XO machine from One Laptop Per Child isn’t just any laptop, as I’ll make clear in my in-depth treatment later today or tomorrow.

With its high-res screen and ability to fold into a tablet, it’s a stellar choice for e-reading. And that’s totally in line with the literacy-related side of OLPC’s mission. For reading, the hardware is better than, say, the ASUS offerings.

So, just with the e-books in mind, nothing else needed, I’m disappointed by the Economist’s grumpy review of the XO—headlined One clunky laptop per child.
..."

In the end, countries should just wait until thye dust clears. There's no real reason to rush into giving elementary school children a laptop, as the benefits of such action have not been demonstrated by anyone.

The best course of action is to see what happens with the couple of banana republics (Peru, Uruguay) serving as guinea pigs for the XO experiment. If things work out there, countries can spring for the $75 Laptop:

http://tech.blorge.com/Structure:%20/2008/01/10/a-cheaper-olpc-yes-says-former-olpc-cto/

Irvin wrote:
"There's no real reason to rush into giving elementary school children a laptop, as the benefits of such action have not been demonstrated by anyone."

You are out of date:
http://www.infodev.org/ict4edu-evaluation-resources

Irvin wrote:
"In the end, countries should just wait until thye dust clears."

I knew you wouldn't care about couple of more children lacking education.

Irvin wrote:
"The best course of action is to see what happens with the couple of banana republics (Peru, Uruguay) serving as guinea pigs for the XO experiment."

Intentionally insulting? Hoping for a flame war?

Winter

Irvin wrote:
"In the end, countries should just wait until thye dust clears. There's no real reason to rush into giving elementary school children a laptop, as the benefits of such action have not been demonstrated by anyone."

Sorry Irvin, but after my latest response I found this site:
http://www.theopensourcerer.com/2008/01/09/olpc-at-bett-olympia/

A report about BETT, "the world’s largest educational technology event".

If you can find information about the usefulness of laptops in education, and the usefulness of the OLPC in particular, anywhere, you can find it here. If there is a specialist in the world, she will be there I think.

It seems many of them fall for the OLPC:
"
We were very fortunate to have been loaned 3 OLPC XO laptops by Tomi Davies (OLPC’s CEO for Nigeria) to demonstrate the platform’s Open Source Software and the incredible computer that runs it which was designed from the ground-up specifically for children in developing countries.

The response has been absolutely amazing! We have been completely inundated all day, every one wanted to touch it, see it and BUY IT! The PC was featured on the BBC news this morning and is discussed at some length in various pages on their website. Here’s a link to today’s article.
"

You can search the original BET site here:
http://www.bettshow.com/

You should be able to find many more arguments contra ICT in education, and XOs in particular. Preferably ones backed by recent facts. Maybe you can also find the reason so many "experts" were falling for the OLPC XO.

Winter

Sorry, Winter, anecdotal evidence doesn't count when countries must decide how to invest millions of education dollars.

The proof is that nobody is rushing to buy the XO.

That said, I appreciate your efforts in trying to convince me that what I see (total lack of enthusiasm by potential buyers) is not really happening. However, you are wasting your energy; the ones that must be convinced are the countries with the money to buy the laptops. I'm just an amused, unimportant spectator.

Irvin:
"I'm just an amused, unimportant spectator."

You are too modest. You have been working hard to paint an image of the OLPC as being made up of frauds and liars (including Mary-Lou). You have jumped on every occasion to disparage the XO, claiming it is technologially backward. You have tried time an again to convince everyone that there has been done no research in ICT in education.

In short, I quote another repsonse you are:

"Ein Geist der verneint"
(German, untranslatable)

Winter

@Winter : you wrote "More choice indeed means more quality". It means more qualities, or differences. But it doesn't mean it's "better". There's too much junk on the market (20000 products this year at the CES). This is insane. The hurdle of choosing is on the consumer; in order to choose he must do the job of industrial designers after products are manufactured and distributed. Having bad products on the market just make some other products look better, but still it doesn't help much. Here's an interesting conference titled "The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less" : http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=6127548813950043200

You want to see mad? How about this guy who does a great thing by purchasing a OLPC but then turns around and throws it on the floor kicking it around. Talk about crazy. Check out the video: http://www.pczapper.tv/pzc5/lfui/index.php?v=2511338&t=p&m=526616

"The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less"

Have you actually watched it? His stats are misconstrued to the extreme.. then he makes up the rest of his talk with personal anecdotes such as buying jeans and pasta sauce. The whole time he sounds like a wingeing old man.

Victoria wrote : "Check out the video: http://www.pczapper.tv/pzc5/lfui/index.php?v=2511338&t=p&m=526616"

Great demo.
If the XO can survive a gadget reviewer like Vincent Everts,
then it should survive any kid.

Trent wrote : "Have you actually watched it?"

Yes. Wait until we can buy pasta sauce and cheap laptops at the grocery store, with garlic or chocolate flavored screens; you will be wingeing too, before getting old. About the supposedly misconstrued stats, can you give us better ones? The idea of this conference is simple: more choices result in more bad choices.

Ivan Krstić on porting XP:

http://radian.org/notebook/paradox-of-choice

Victoria,

The XO is still working. The guy just wants to demonstrate how tough the XO is. You can't do that with other laptop.

how can I order one of the laptops
and can I order it

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