Linux

OLPC gets some competition


OLPC; One Laptop Per Child. What a great idea, children in the third world don’t need food, water and healthcare they need a computer! As everyone will remember; professor Negroponte of MIT made it his mission to put $100 laptop computers in the hands of children growing up in the third world and developing nations “It's an education project, not a laptop project.” The problem is Intel have seen the markets potential and are swooping in to compete with their ‘Classmate’ low cost laptop.

Professor Negroponte said Intel has hurt his mission “enormously” while Intel responded in saying “We’re not trying to drive him out of business, we’re trying to bring capability to young people”.

It really does seem that this is a true clash of ideals--just take a look at the specs:

OLPC Intel Classmate
433Mhz AMD Geode 900Mhz Intel Mobile ULV
256MB DDR333 256MB DDRII
7.5” 1200x900 Dual Mode LCD 7” 880x480 LCD
802.11b/g WiFi + LAN 802.11b/g WiFi + LAN
1GB SLC NAND Flash storage 1/2GB NAND Flash storage
Linux Windows XP Pro / Linux
   

Its pretty much swings and roundabouts when it comes to RAM, storage and connectivity but the other areas couldn’t be more different. In the CPU stakes Intel have clearly decided to flex a little muscle in the face of their counterpart (namely AMD not OLPC)—the only problem is higher power consumption. If both machines are running Linux then you may be able to say that the additional CPU power isn’t justified; with Windows running on the Classmate you can be sure the extra grunt doesn’t do any harm. Display wise the OLPC has clearly chosen a superior component. Although only 0.5” larger in size; the substantially higher resolution will be a massive benefit and the reflective mode of operation will again reduce power consumption. The biggest difference is obviously the choice of operating system. OLPC is only available running Linux where as the Classmate is offered with either Linux or Windows XP. A small detail that should be mentioned is the Classmate costs twice the price of the OLPC!

Clearly Intel has seen a market and wants to compete. It should be interesting to see how this all pans out; recent reports suggest Intel have launched a Classmate pilot program in India—a country which has snubbed the OLPC quite publicly.

5 comments
dogknees
dogknees

>>OLPC; One Laptop Per Child. What a great idea, children in the third world don?t need food, water and healthcare they need a computer! Is it not possible that they need all these things? When someone says this group need some particular thing, it doesn't imply that they don't need anything else, or that it's the most important thing they need. Rather than working on one need, then another, ... Lets try and work on all the issues together in an integrated way. It seems pretty obvious this is a better way to go. Regards

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I may have opened with something more valid than: "What a great idea, children in the third world don?t need food, water and healthcare they need a computer!" Being that this is the knee jerk reaction that everyone seems to have before they actually consider the project. Yes, food and shelter are of primary concern; the OLPC is for people who have food and shelter but now need education and information. As for Intel, it was inevitable. AMD got the OLPC contract so Intel has to show it's share holders that it's competing. I just wish I could believe they have the same humanitarian motivations that OLPC has. A good quick article though.

Justin Fielding
Justin Fielding

I just feel that those who already have food and water are 'ok' so rather than giving them a computer the money should be spent on the children who don't. I guess the OLPC project isn't really intended for the third world but for developing nations. The problem being that even in these developing nations (e.g. India) there are huge inequalities between those in the growing working classes and those in poorer rural areas living below the poverty line where food and healthcare are still of primary concern. Why doesn't the project operate in the west? Many children growing up in western countries aren't privileged enough to own a computer and these children would benefit more directly than those in developing nations. Western governments can afford to pay a little more and therefore subsidize some of the units shipping to less fortunate areas of the globe.

apotheon
apotheon

Providing increased education and skill acquisition opportunity for people who would otherwise live below the poverty line all their lives is the net win here. Generating wealth helps [b]everyone[/b], as wealth generation leads to greater velocity of capital, which in turn leads to increased standards of living for everyone that touches the economic market in which the wealth generation occurs. That means that people who have food and shelter, but not access to quality healthcare, humane working conditions, and international sources of information can begin to provide those things for not only themselves, but others who are even less fortunate than they are. An economic market is not a zero-sum game, and individuals within it do not exist within a vacuum. In other words, "a rising tide lifts all boats".

david
david

It's a little funny -- when most of the kids may need more basics they get a laptop - but hey why not jump along a little ... There's a lot of catching up to do. David Buy One Give One