Intel has quit One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) amidst accusations of it playing dirty, despite supposedly being on the same team.
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.
The above incident proved to be the final straw for Nicholas Negroponte, head of the OLPC project. He demanded that Intel stop in its efforts — as he saw it, to undermine the group's sales. Last week, Intel chose instead to withdraw its support from OLPC.
If you recall, Intel reversed its long-held anti-OLPC position over the summer of 2007. It joined the organization's board and agreed to contribute $18 million to begin developing an Intel-based version of the computer. However, it appears that Intel continued in its attempts to aggressively sell the competing Classmate PC.
Even after Intel joined the One Laptop board, in country after country, the two organizations competed to make government sales, Mr. Negroponte said yesterday in a telephone interview. The relationship first frayed seriously in October, he said, when an Intel salesman gave a Mongolian government official a side-by-side comparison of the Classmate PC and the XO.
Despite assurances from Intel chief executive Paul S. Otellini, nothing changed Intel's practices for accelerating the development of an Intel prototype for the OLPC. According to Mr. Negroponte, Intel sales representatives were claiming that Intel had information suggesting that the OLPC was in trouble as a result of the company's board position there.
Could it be a case of Intel merely giving itself alternatives by joining the OLPC and then cutting it loose when its own Classmate PC prove to be doing relatively well? What do you think Intel hoped to achieve here?
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.