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Intel, Microsoft Despised the XO Laptop

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the immune-response dept.

Education 521

gregsim writes "The Wall Street Journal today reports that the new XO laptop, centerpiece of the One Laptop Per Child project, is stimulating an active response from both Intel and Microsoft. The companies evidently feel threatened by the little upstart, intended to help third-world children. (The XO runs Linux and uses AMD chips.) Microsoft has cut their software to $3 each and Intel has designed their own laptop called the Classmate to sell between $230 and $300, nearly double the XO's price. Rather than defend the relative merits of his creation, professor Negroponte is crying foul and (if the article is to be believed) not even arguing the technical merits. The initial demand for the XO has fallen well below Mr. Negroponte's projections as Intel and Microsoft have successfully argued that their entries are superior. 45,000 have been ordered through the Give One, Get One campaign. I am happy that I ordered mine — it will be a landmark model in any case."

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!news (1)

KEnderK (1171753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465189)

Microsoft hates Linux? Who know? ;)

Competition is good (3, Insightful)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465193)

If Negreponte's goal is to get cheap laptops in the hands of poor children, why would he be angry? Those poor kids deserve choice, and competition from the Classmate provides that. So fewer kids get the XO, so what? Seems like Negreponte is letting his ego cloud his vision.

Re:Competition is good (5, Insightful)

macz (797860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465219)

Competition is good, but anti-competition is bad. Negroponte's argument is that the big boys are smothering XO in the crib with half-assed attempts at being cheap (but DRM and IP laden).

Re:Competition is good (1, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465301)

Anti-competiton is competition, looked from the other side. Who is the competition and who the anticompetition: pepsi Zero or Coke Black? BigMac or Supermax? Linuzz or Windows?... In this case the initiative was not from the MS camp, so the negroponte's camp had the "monopoly" (a oh, so loved word here) or the solo position in this project. They are getting a fair competition which will lead to a better final result (for the consumer). Or is it only OK when MS gets competition but not OK when they are competting? I know this is /. and I shouldn't expect anything else, but double moral much?

Re:Competition is good (5, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465417)

There's a big difference between actual competition (which is great) and competition that exists only long enough to bankrupt a competitor so that your primary market is extended (if only for a few more months).

If MS and Intel want to seriously get -- and STAY -- in the game of providing system for the developing world, that's great. The concern is that they'll produce just enough press releases for the XO to stop getting orders it needs to stay viable, then once the XO is basically dead, MS/Intel say "oh, well now that we look at the market, we really think tour new $500 design is more appropriate". Then it would take another year or three for the XO or something similar to get back into production. Anyone with more than a few months of experience in the computer industry is familiar with this pattern.

As a side note, I was shocked when my sister, who is about as technical as "my computer's cupholder is broken!" actually mentioned the "buy one get one" promotion over Thanksgiving. They've done a great job marketing, even if my sister didn't have any idea what the program was about or what made the computer unusual, she just knew about it as the $150 laptop.

Re:Competition is good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465577)

she was your sister? small world. I probably mentioned it earlier this week when I did her up the pooper and up the vag (in that order).

Re:Competition is good (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465441)

What is being offered by Microsoft and Intel is an inferior, but more expensive product. They are trying to leverage their (arguable) monopolies to not only set a higher price than the market wants, but to make sure legions of children don't grow up learning non-Intel, non-Microsoft products.

It is hard to blame Microsoft entirely, since they can't exactly compete with free. Intel, on the other hand, has no excuse. If they were truly acting competitively, they would try to sell Negroponte on their processors and compete with AMD (you know, their actual competitor) that way, and not screw over those kids in the process.

Re:Competition is good (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465511)

What is being offered by Microsoft and Intel is an inferior, but more expensive product.
And your problem is? If it's more expensive and inferior then it'll be unsuccessful.

 

Re:Competition is good (5, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465571)

Depends who does the buying...
If the people buying these machines aren't spending their own money, and intel or microsoft offer them some money into their own back pocket in exchange for spending more of someone else's money, what do you think they'll do?

Re:Competition is good (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465595)

In that circumstance you think whether the OLPC or whatever is successful or not is the problem?

 

Re:Competition is good (4, Insightful)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465663)

The problem is companies like Microsoft and Intel go unpunished when they effect a coup de grace, against a gentleman like Negreponte, who is actually trying to do SOMETHING. Fact is no one knows what the real solution is, but you can't defend Microsoft's right to participate in foreign corruption just because the place is a shit-hole.

Re:Competition is good (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465247)

"If Negreponte's goal is to get cheap laptops in the hands of poor children, why would he be angry?"

If Microsoft and Intel put Negreponte out of 'business' by selling subsidised low-cost PCs, how long do you think they'll continue to sell them afterwards?

They're not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, they're doing it because they see a competitor they want to eliminate.

Re:Competition is good (5, Interesting)

kat_skan (5219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465295)

If Microsoft and Intel put Negreponte out of 'business' by selling subsidised low-cost PCs, how long do you think they'll continue to sell them afterwards?

Maybe a long time if Walmart decides that selling $200 laptops along side their $200 desktops sounds like a good idea. Granted that won't help children in developing nations much, but it'd sure do something interesting to the PC market.

the nature of the competitive threat (5, Interesting)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465517)

I'm not sure about Intel's role in this, but Microsoft undoubtedly sees a threat beyond what's being discussed here. The threat isn't directly Negroponte and the One Laptop Per Child project, it's Linux. If you put a cheap laptop in the hands of a few hundred million kids, they won't grow up to be afraid of it. That's the real threat. Microsoft's threat horizon exceeds a generation.

Re:Competition is good (1)

Fourier404 (1129107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465249)

Only by creating his laptop in bulk can he manufacture them cheaply, so he thinks he deserves an initial monopoly to get started. However he really ought to leave this stuff to the pros and let the market bring prices down.

Re:Competition is good (5, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465385)

he really ought to leave this stuff to the pros and let the market bring prices down.
We HAVE left it to the "pros" for decades and what did they provide this marketplace? Absolutely NOTHING. They completely ignored developing nations in favor of the high margins of the first world. Only now that someone has finally paid attention to the billions of computerless do Intel and Microsoft get off their butts and half-heartedly and belatedly bring a half-assed and overpriced solution to the market. Nice.

I'm not sure who I'm madder at: Intel & Microsoft for their transparent claims of "trying to help", the potential recipients of the XO who are being fooled into not ordering it, or folks like you who are not seeing any problem with this whole cock-up.

Re:Competition is good (5, Insightful)

Fourier404 (1129107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465483)

Actually, they have done something. If you haven't noticed, computers have gone from being $10K to $300 or less for a budget machine. Laptops are also getting ever cheaper and were going to be hitting the $300 price point themselves because middle-class kids all want laptops and not all parents are all that rich. There are two kinds of poor countries we're talking about here: There's China and India, who don't need our help, their economies are exploding and are going to take care of themselves, and then there's the African countries wracked with violence who wouldn't have money to spare on laptops for all their children no matter how cheap they were.

Re:Competition is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465519)

You failed geography eh? Or is it that you failed at humanity? There is a lot more need than that. South America. Central Asia. And even in Asia that you casually mentioned and then brushed aside, there are a lot more needs than those.

Re:Competition is good (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465531)

So, are you saying Africa needs more than the traditional model has to offer, or are you saying fuck Africa?

Re:Competition is good (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465601)

This has happened to the hardware side of things despite intel, not because of them...
Intel's products have improved considerably and become better value for money thanks to competition primarily from AMD, but also cyrix, via and all the other x86 compatible makers. The same thing happened in other areas of hardware, competition between seagate/maxtor/ibm/hitachi/etc, nvidia/ati/s3/inte...
At the same time, proprietary software has become more expensive and slower, because there is often much less competition and more lock-in.

Re:Competition is good (5, Informative)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465253)

Ummmm, the kids don't really have a choice about which one they get. They are ordered by the kids' respective governments. The other problem with the Wintel offering is that it's not environmentally hardened like the XO. For a kid in a mud hut having a computer that can take intense amounts of punishment is very important. Another thing I don't like about Wintel interfering is that it really isn't geared towards learning, they're worried about a bunch of kids learning something other than M$ software and intel Hardware. The XO is pretty much agnostic when it comes to software and hardware, they're going for cheap durable and good for learning which they have with the current setup. Now if Wintel were worried about the kids not getting something important to education and took steps to mitigate that lack then I don't see anything wrong with them getting involved, but really all they're worried about are future profit margins.

Re:Competition is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465659)

no, for a kid in a mud hut, NOT LIVING IN A MUD HUT is very important. not computers.

Re:Competition is good (1)

linuxmeltz (815217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465687)

In addition to the physical punishment aspect, the battery life of the two systems are miles apart with the Classmate being a mere 4hrs, while the XO 10+. In situations with limited power, this is going to be a huge difference. I would argue that situations where power is not limited (such as richer areas of Brazil), the Wintel offering will be fine-- more electrical power = more processing power. In fact, if they can run the content offerings of OLPC (basically a python-based environment), the goals of all organizations will be met-- hardware sales + very nice educational software. If OLPC can survive then next year or two, the market will stratify into those who have the resources to run Wintel, and those who really need the extra benefits of the OLPC (special casing, cloud networking, power management etc).

Re:Competition is good (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465261)

Competition is wonderful in the long run and on the whole. But it really sucks when you're one of the people competing.

Any business' ultimate goal is to establish a monopoly and control the market. With that said, I don't know enough about OLPC to know if it's business or non-profit or what. But even if they're not a business it still sucks to have people competing against you. Because for all the effort they've put in to make their product what it is they could see it all swept up by a competitor who is able to offer something better. That is scary. Even though it will ultimately benefit the children in the long run.

Re:Competition is good (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465341)

IT wont benefit the children when Intel and Microsoft put them out of business and fire the prices up. $3 for Windows? come on.

Re:Competition is good (5, Funny)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465477)

***$3 for Windows? come on.***

I agree that's a bit more than Vista is really worth, but maybe they'll give up another 20-40% on volume orders.

Re:Competition is good (1)

ChocoBean (890202) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465369)

OH C'mon if you'd bothered with news of the OLPC from day one, or if you had just read this one, tiny article you'd have read that it's a nonprofit. [TFA also points out that $1 out of each laptop will be used for admin costs. ] And as 0123456 points out, they're not doing it to be competitive in an open market for cheaper laptops, they're trying to eliminate the idea that laptops CAN in fact cost less than $100 each, one day, if it is bundled with free OS, software, and a cheaper chip. One day the US will not be the market trend leader. And when that day comes they want the new guys to carry the torch (and factories) of their brands, not some cheap, free, open initiative that aims to remain cheap as a nonprofit entity.

Re:Competition is good (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465399)

Because Intel and Microsoft may be selling their version at a loss, to eliminate the "competition". If successful, once the XO laptop disappears, so does the cheap Intel/MS laptop.

Re:Competition is good (1)

bauerbob (1049344) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465409)

This is not an offer in your next walmart, where people can choose, which laptop to buy. It's a war for market share and all the big players have understood that in the meantime. They even don't need to make money now - they know that it's only important now to get in control of this new market, because the profits will come for sure with upcoming software demands and support requests. So the product's prize does not need to reflect the manufacturing costs, when companies have enough money right now to wait for the profits. The olpc project does not, so this competition is pretty unfair. And - even worse - making the development countries dependent on proprietary software from "our" countries is as fair as triangular trade has been some centuries ago.

Re:Competition is good (2, Insightful)

bornwaysouth (1138751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465427)

People seem to be slanging off Negreponte as being overly protective of his invention. According to the article, he isn't. He is in the education business, and happy that a side effect of his initiative is that cheap laptops are becoming available. He is not in the business of flogging laptops. He has technical concerns about apples-with-oranges comparisons.

I suspect he expects his initiative to fail. Not for lack of merit, but simply the gross inadequacy of the decision makers in most countries. Bribery is the norm in international trade, and the need to appear powerful must be near universal among politicians. Microsoft is powerful, Linux is not. So go where the power is. Additionally, ' branding ' works in all societies. He will not be expecting a kiddies book ending here.

Re:Competition is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465621)

Because Negreponte cares more about getting credit and attention the he does helping kids.

Re:Competition is good (1)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465685)

Others have pointed out that these competitors may be artificially underpricing their product to drive the OLPC out of the market and then raise them afterwards. Also:

"From my point of view, if the world were to have 30 million" laptops made by competitors "in the hands of children at the end of next year, that to me would be a great success," he said in a recent interview. "My goal is not selling laptops. OLPC is not in the laptop business. It's in the education business."

Re:Competition is good (3, Insightful)

hhas (990942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465625)

Competition is great. Microsoft selling their products as $3 a pop isn't competition though, unless you think $3 is cost price or greater. That's a subsidised loss leader intended to undercut the competition and thereby put them out of business, a classic anti-competitive tactic [wikipedia.org] . You're welcome to disagree, of course, but try fitting out a US-based organisation with $3 copies of MS software and see how long it takes the BSA to drop on them like a ton of bricks.

Freedom is more valuable than choice. (2, Insightful)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465653)

Because "choice" is not always good, and merely getting "cheap laptops in the hands of poor children" is not the goal. One must be mindful of what the choices are and their long-term implications. A choice of being dominated by a proprietor is inappropriate for all users. This computer aims to educate and a system users can totally modify and learn from to suit their needs. Basing the XO on free software is entirely appropriate as is using the computer in freedom. Building the XO on proprietary software is wholly inappropriate. It's a good thing that these kids can investigate what's really going on and help one another, making their computers do what they want and only freedom can assure that.

The "choice" argument is one used by software proprietors and their sympathizers to make non-free alternative seem equal to free software. Dependency and separation, an imposed inability to help oneself is far worse than independence, helping one's community, and social solidarity.

The problem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465201)

Fuck Microsoft and fuck Intel.

Technical merits? (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465211)

It seems to me that the children to whom these laptops are going don't need whizbang computing power, they just need basic computing ability. The OLPC project has no need to "argue the technical merits" of their device against potentially more powerful (but more expensive) competition when the price for this technology is the lowest around.

Re:Technical merits? (1)

tuxic (769908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465255)

Yeah I agree that it's not important to have extreme performance computers. The functionality is at focus here, not CPU power show-off. As I have understood it, the OLPC is good at doing what it needs to do.

Re:Technical merits? (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465553)

the children to whom these laptops are going don't need whizbang computing power

Now a child can get educated simply by accessing HTML pages, which means even an old Pentium 133MHz processor will do fine.

But children in the first world will soon be educated from within Second Life and some sort of next-generation post-AJAX interactive Web which will be much more resource-hungry than HTML.

With this in mind, it would be reasonable to except that children laptops should get more powerful soon, even for third world countries. If not, then when in first world children will learn from within Second Life, in the third world children will be stuck with HTML.

Negroponte's Dumb Idea (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465213)

The thing is, Negroponte's $100 laptop suffers from the same flaw as Ford's Model T ultimately did. A used computer will probably give you more capability than a cheap new one. I think for $150, you could buy a notebook that's better than this "everyman's computer", and while you were at it, you could probably buy a used generator.

Re:Negroponte's Dumb Idea (2, Funny)

Baron von Pilsner (1115373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465275)

You are probably correct, but can you order 5,000 of them for your country..?

Re:Negroponte's Dumb Idea (5, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465375)

The thing is, Negroponte's $100 laptop suffers from the same flaw as Ford's Model T ultimately did. A used computer will probably give you more capability than a cheap new one. I think for $150, you could buy a notebook that's better than this "everyman's computer", and while you were at it, you could probably buy a used generator.

The cheapest I can find a hand powered generator capable of powering a laptop, even used, is about $60. The cheapest I can find used laptops online is about $200. How much value there in the tailored OS, preloaded with software and reference material and preconfigured to be ideal in the conditions of the third world?

I think you're very mistaken. Getting a good laptop that will work well for children in these situations, with questionable access to electricity is a lot harder than you seem to imply. And even if you do, it probably will still fail to meet the second half of the criteria, which is to say it is all free and easily editable/customizable without any lock-in to a particular vendor. The first world has undercut the agricultural sector in much of the third world and catching them up with agricultural equipment and fertilizer production would cost a huge amount. Providing them with the foundation to enter into the intellectual property industry, including custom software. This is a chance for them to develop a sustainable industry and income and offer their services to the world.

Re:Negroponte's Dumb Idea (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465413)

Will this used computer be hardened for the kinds of environments that OLPC has in mind?

Re:Negroponte's Dumb Idea (2, Insightful)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465501)

Right. You could buy a used computer. And a generator. Then all you have to do is arrange for the fuel truck to stop by every little while with more fuel... and the used notebook doesn't have much memory, and every machine in the school is a different model than every other machine... yes, great idea.

Re:Negroponte's Dumb Idea (1)

amabbi (570009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465589)

The thing is, Negroponte's $100 laptop suffers from the same flaw as Ford's Model T ultimately did.
What flaw are you talking about? The one that made their technology finally affordable for the masses, revolutionizing their respective industries and dictating the pace of innovation for years to come? Yeah, that sounds like a dumb idea....

Ah, the canonical monopoly response... (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465225)

Ah, yes, the canonical monopoly tactic to competition coming along.
  • sit there minding your own business making $$$$$
  • competitor comes along with something
  • monopoly makes its own stuff to CRUSH the competitor (optionally even suffering a short-term loss)
  • things drift back to making $$$$$
  • market failure!

Re:Ah, the canonical monopoly response... (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465327)

OK, so they are offering Linuzzz gratis in that laptop. You cannot get cheaper. And they are offering Windows cheap (not gratis). By logic, what are they fearing then? maybe they are fearing that even if the Linuzzz alternative IS cheaper, the users (and goverments= will prefer the more expensive solution anyway (less problems, more compatibility, etc).

Competition is always welcomed, or so says everyone here.

Re:Ah, the canonical monopoly response... (5, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465403)

  1. OLPC makes a $100 notebook, offers for sale at cost.
  2. Wintel makes a $50 notebook, offers for sale at great loss.
  3. Customers leave OLPC and stampede to Wintel.
  4. OLPC closes up the shop.
  5. Wintel cancels the project. Customers stand there empty-handed.
  6. Wintel wins - by doing nothing other than a few press-releases.

Competition is always welcomed, or so says everyone here

Do _you_ still say so, after this scenario?

Re:Ah, the canonical monopoly response... (0, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465525)

The customers who bought a device got what they wanted. Those who didn't, didn't.

 

Re:Ah, the canonical monopoly response... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465579)

The antitrust law is there to prevent rich monopolists form killing of smaller competitors. It is very applicable in this situation.

Re:Ah, the canonical monopoly response... (1)

Taleron (875810) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465585)

Or simply because it's Windows:

That's partly because they no longer cost $100 apiece, says Tomi Davies, a Nigerian-born technology entrepreneur who helped Mr. Negroponte set up talks with Nigerian officials.

The higher price also has made the laptop vulnerable to competition from sellers of more traditional, Windows-based machines. For many education ministries, "it's a no-brainer you go with Microsoft," says Mr. Davies.

Competition may be great, but I can't help but think a total nonprofit looking to help children, facing multi-billion-dollar corporations looking to help themselves under the guise of helping children, doesn't really sound like competition in the spirit most Slashdotters bandy about.

$230 not 'double' the price (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465227)

The XO is selling for $199. $230 is hardly 'double' the price.

Re:$230 not 'double' the price (0)

ceeam (39911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465461)

$200 buys one for you, one for a kid.

Re:$230 not 'double' the price (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465497)

You == teh wrong! Unless you're saying $200 for yours and $200 for the kids. The buy one get one is $399 for two.

Re:$230 not 'double' the price (3, Informative)

ravenlock (693538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465541)

Nope, $399 buys you one and another for a kid, $200 of it is tax-deductible.

Waste of time (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465233)

The third world needs a lot more than a cheap laptop. They have to figure out agriculture first!!!

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465265)

+5 insightful

Re:Waste of time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465271)

Or better yet, teach all of the fucktards in third world nations the quickest way to commit suicide to eliminate a good part of the CO2 in the atmoshphere.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED MODPOINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465447)

or just ignore you because you are AC

Re:Waste of time (4, Funny)

okmijnuhb (575581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465311)

Who needs agriculture? They can just order food online after making some quick cash with some online scams.

Re:Waste of time (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465319)

They have to figure out agriculture first!!!
They can't figure out agriculture till the USA and EU stop dumping their subsidised agricultural overproduction on their markets and open their own agricultural markets to competition.
 

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465391)

Well once they have some laptops, they can google all the farming tutorials they want. :)

3rd world needs to figure out birth control first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465471)

Run the numbers any way you like; it all comes down to the fact that a rapidly growing population is not sustainable. At current growth rates the mass of humans will exceed the mass of the known universe in 7000 years. We can deal with that now, or later. Later is more painful, with war and famine.

Re:3rd world needs to figure out birth control fir (4, Insightful)

LooTze (988596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465683)

Studies in India have shown that the best way to reduce population growth in a democracy is to educate women. Percolation of computers and cell phones into the rural areas have allowed significant (class room/world exposure type of) education to happen even outside the schools. This has been a more recent phenomenon and while these have had definite economic advantages (e.g. google - kerala fishermen cell phones). It is not clear as yet whether this type of education will also help in the same way but it definitely seems plausible. In the absence of coercion there appears to be no other reliable way to reduce the growth rate. Needless to say, the benefits of education and access to computers has obvious advantages in things like agriculture, etc.

Re:Waste of time (1)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465475)

And one great way to learn to do better agriculture science is to have access to the www. The biggest and best thing that internet access brings to the developing world is the knowledge of how to develop themselves.

Re:Waste of time (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465489)

I suppose there's no IT involved in modern "agriculture". OK.

Re:Waste of time (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465643)

> The third world needs a lot more than a cheap laptop. They have to figure out agriculture first!!!

Agriculture is an important aspect of a country's development. However, when talking about the OLPC project people often seem to forget that the 3rd world doesn't just consist of poor subsistence farmers, but also (for instance) poor manufacturing workers in sprawling cities. What about the children who grow up miles from affordable farmland? Or children who grow up in subsistence farming but would like to get a more skilled job to provide for their own children.

You're right of course that laptops shouldn't be prioritised above the basic needs for people to just survive. It's just that the 3rd world citizens who can provide their most basic needs and are already "just surviving" are sometimes left out of these discussions, but they're still legitimate candidates for this sort of aid. If the laptops are used to increase the welfare and education of citizens whilst their basic needs are provided for, this could be an awesome tool for world development. If governments start providing laptops at the expense of ensuring food supplies and sanitation, that would be very worrying.

Re:Waste of time (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465689)

I think perhaps you're a couple of decades out of date on this one.

Some third world countries, maybe a lot of them, seem to have agriculture, medicine, etc down well enough. Cuba has a medical delivery system about as effective as first world countries at a cost annual cost of $275 per person. Poppy farmers in Afghanistan have little trouble raising their crops and getting them to market despite the active opposition of the world's best equipped and most expensive military. What third world countries seem to lack is honest, effective governments and non-disfunctional social systems. For the most part, both capitalism and socialism seem to have failed them dismally. Countries who put their trust in God don't fare any better. Apparently God expects the faithful to apply a bit of common sense as well as the Bible, Koran or whatever.

Amiga (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465243)

"I am happy that I ordered mine -- it will be a landmark model in any case."

That's great (0)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465259)

Here in Slashdot everybody's motto is "competition is good". So THIS is competition. People should forget now about politics and be actually happy that the children of the poor contries will actually be the winners here.

You know, people are happy when MS gets competition but they often forget that competition comes also FROM MS, so Negroponte just need to shutup and taste his own medicine.

Re:That's great (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465307)

Yes, but that doesn't give you a chance to rage against the evils of... crap. I forgot what was evil this week.

Re:That's great (5, Insightful)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465463)

Competition is good...

However, Monopolies are bad. This is a clear case of a monopoly using its power to stifle long term competition at a short term profit loss.

Do you honestly think Microsoft would offer both an OS and Office for $3 if it wasn't trying to stifle competition? As soon as the OLPC project is broke and a memory, expect the price of Microsoft's software to increase exponentially.

Got an Asus Eee PC instead (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465305)

The OLPC is an amazing project and will spearhead a whole slew of cheap laptops. I am just disappointed that OLPC themselves didnt see the potential in selling a consumer version of their device. I bought an Asus Eee PC largely because there is no consumer OLPC. I love the form factor and everything else about the OLPC but why restrict it to 3rd world countries when the appeal is universal? They really should sell a consumer version - bump the storage capacity, flash it with Fedora and maybe ship it in a black / white version but please sell the damned thing. The Asus Eee PC demonstrates the enormous demand for these devices. The OLPC project is denying themselves a pile of sales and profit by not releasing a consumer version.

Eee and GPL (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465365)

Some people say some weird things about Eee and GPL, see here [blogspot.com] and here [tuxmachines.org] ... I don't know whether what they say is true, but I guess it would be of interest to consumers who care about the GPL.

Re:Got an Asus Eee PC instead (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465393)

When ideology and business meet, ideology survives only by gaining business footing. Otherwise it loses.

One Laptop per Child will lose. I have not seen such a pathologically rabid ideologically driven project even in the days when I lived on the other side of the Iron curtain.

My wife was looking for a rugged platform to drive field lab tests for HIV, sleeping sickness, frambesia, etc in the third world. The same idea as the OLPC, but for diagnostics - to bring the diagnostics out of the big hospitals into the villages where it is really needed. And you know what, the idiot c****ers told her that they will not distract from the purism of there idealistic drivel to provide several copies to a project that does not aim for the quality of education in the third world. Yep, minor difference, it actually aims to provide the same kids a chance to be alive. Total cretins...

So Negroponte may scream murder as much as he like. I will enjoy his screams despite running a Microsoft free household for 10+ years now. He deserves it. And with the Eee and the like it is now really a case of "the avalanche has started, it is too late for pebbles to vote".

Found the Problem (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465329)

Potential buyers in the developing world have expressed concern about the availability of training for schoolteachers, and after-sales support. Mr. Negroponte's plan is for the machines to be simple enough that students can train themselves -- and solve any glitches that arise.
....
Mr. Negroponte said some initial tech support would be provided by Brightstar Corp., a Miami-based wireless equipment distributor. Just who would provide support a few years from now, he said, was "a frightening question." The students, he said, will need "to do as much maintenance as possible."


No real vendor support. Who is going to buy these things when they have to fix every single problem themselves?

Re:Found the Problem (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465481)

The laptops are given as charity. They're trying to make them as inexpensive as possible so more of them can be given. You simply can't expect good tech support when you're trying to keep the price as low as possible. Do you think Intel and Microsoft are going to have any patience with tech support calls for their "Classmate" computer? No way. They don't make enough money to bother.

Besides, the incentive for computer companies to provide support is so that their customers become repeat customers. In the case of the XO and Classmate, the computer consumer is a different party than the computer purchaser. This means the companies don't have much incentive for tech support because the customer with the tech support problem is unlikely to be purchasing a computer in the future anyway.

Re:Found the Problem (3, Insightful)

tom's a-cold (253195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465507)

No real vendor support. Who is going to buy these things when they have to fix every single problem themselves?
Haven't travelled much, have you? What, you think Fedex does pickups in rural Chad at a rate the locals can afford? Believe me, it's difficult calling support when there's no phone. In much of the world, it's mend and make do. If someone local doesn't do the work for you, it isn't going to get done.

So perhaps you have some ideas about how vendor support will be provided by the likes of Microsoft?

Re:Found the Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465543)

You are missing the point entirely.

These computers are very necessary for childrens to have.

Forget the logistics and additional costs of distribution, training, maintenance, and service. That stuff does not matter. Governments have plenty of money. What is another few hundred thousand dollars to cover the cost of this project when it solves the world problem of not everyone having a computer. Yeah, some people have much bigger problems but the western world/US knows the solution. Everyone needs to have his or her own computer. When they are this cheap it can only do good. Governments of developing nations have shitloads of money to throw at problems. This just makes everyone in the world a little more American. Individuals need their own goods and problems can be fixed by throwing money at them. Forget thought, we are living in a truly American age.

The additional costs are not a problem. People can figure things out. This bloke is doing good things. Solving wrongs and savings lives and all that bullshit.

Fighting a non profit (5, Insightful)

coolate (1173457) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465331)

The real annoying thing is that they are not jumping in the market to help kids but undermine a non profit so they can get the market. Other companies like AMD have been helping the effort, but Microsoft and Intel see it as competition. This is a non profit effort. Next the pharmaceuticals will be going after the red cross because they want to sell cheap blood alternatives to disaster victims. Yeah competition! I am proud to have gotten one.

Re:Fighting a non profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465485)

I'm thinking someone needs to start a smear campaign on TV, burn wintel, burn.

Nearly double? (1)

sc7 (1141597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465347)

Since when is $230(1.15x)-$300(1.5x), nearly double $200? I'm not defending Microsoft or Intel, since they wanted to make a greedy business plan out of the cause, which is despicable, but lets not let the fanboys exaggerate such numbers here.

When they discover they're worth $200 on eBay (3, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465355)

http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=OLPC&category0= [ebay.com]

You'll find the OLPC is basically just a financial subsidy to the poor in the developing world...

What's the average annual wage in Bangladesh?

 

Re:When they discover they're worth $200 on eBay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465695)

Lagos, Nigeria.
Attention: The President/CEO

Dear Sir,

Confidential Business Proposal

Having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Nigerian Chambers Of Commerce And Industry, I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer one XO laptop into your hands. The above computer resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by a foreign contractor. This action was however intentional and since then the computer has been in a vault at The Central Bank Of Nigeria Apex Bank.

We are now ready to transfer the computer overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require your assistance. The total sum required will be $200 (two hundred US dollars).

The transfer is risk free on both sides. I am an accountant with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:

(a) your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.

(b) your private telephone and fax numbers --for confidentiality and easy communication.

(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.

Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining, comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.

Please reply urgently.

Best regards

Howgul Abul Arhu

Double the cost of the XO? Huh? (3, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465363)

Intel has designed their own laptop called the Classmate to sell between $230 and $300, nearly double the XO's price

What? The XO was targeted to cost $100. It ballooned out to $130, then $175, then $188, then $200 [eweek.com] .

Now, if you want to donate 10,000 of them, you get that $200 price. If you want to donate 100 or less, you pay $300 per laptop. [laptopfoundation.org]

Why they have a sliding price scale is beyond me...they're supposed to be a non-profit, building the things for the poorest people in the world, and yet...the fewer you buy, the more you pay...

Re:Double the cost of the XO? Huh? (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465433)

They may be a non-profit organisation but I bet the manufacturing company making them isn't.

Re:Double the cost of the XO? Huh? (1)

bfields (66644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465565)

Why they have a sliding price scale is beyond me...they're supposed to be a non-profit, building the things for the poorest people in the world, and yet...the fewer you buy, the more you pay...

It's cheaper per unit to fulfill a larger order than a smaller one.

Re:Double the cost of the XO? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465693)

Is that not common business practice and how the supplier works?

Anybody knows that if you buy in bulk it is a lot cheaper basically because of shipping and other cost.

Negroponte is surprised about the actual demand? (4, Insightful)

Flavio (12072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465381)

If so, I'm sorry to say he lacks the cynicism to deal with politicians, specially those from third world nations. These individuals will endorse any project that makes them look good. An OLPC endorsement is marketing gold from a politician's point of view, because it ties education, children and technology -- areas which third world nations are very reluctant to invest in -- all at zero cost.

Talk is cheap.

this whole thing stinks and I don't like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465423)

I am against this whole cheap laptop thing.

Making a shitty plastic machine that is basically throwaway and entirely too American in design (everyone should have his or her own laptop) is not a noble cause.

Creating more trash is really not a good thing. Especially when it is being dumped in not so developed areas.

I just do not like it. Really. I mean it is ethically problematic. Sure the intent is good, but that does not mean that it is a good thing to do. There are plenty of areas where the ~$180US would probably be better spent on water purification, food, medicine, condoms, and many other things. But this self-righteous asshole is telling people that computers are what people really need. Shitty do little computers to boot.

Like others have said recycling older parts is the way to go. Yeah, that does create power issues, but it would probably be easier to add something in to stuff that is already trash than making more trash.

Re:this whole thing stinks and I don't like it. (1)

NIckGorton (974753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465559)

"food, medicine, condoms, and many other things." Are you old enough to have lived back when your average high school student had minimal to none information about condoms? My thirteen year old niece can give me pointers about it that she learned on teh internets. Do you think that its obvious that with the write knowledge food and medicine will be more abundant and effective. Its more than just throwing seeds in the ground.

Re:this whole thing stinks and I don't like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21465639)

Buddy the point is that the money can be better spent elsewhere.

Technology can save people up to a point, but it does not start from zero.

Giving children living in "mud hut[s]" computers does not make life any better. They have access to information, but how useable is it?

I am not saying technology is bad. Condoms are technology. And important. What I am saying is that it makes more sense to create some type of shared learning center instead of dumping off Fisher Price garbage to give everyone something. The goal here should be on allowing society to rise up. Not spending $200 per person on shit. Think about it. This system works out to ~$2000 for ten people. Why not just spend $500 or less for a shared system? Then kids have access to communication and medicine and condoms and ability to surive.

People are not simply going to live a better life because they have a fucking intertubes box in front of them. Yeah, your niece can learn all about condoms from watching porn, but she has access to condoms. She can go out and get them. These assholes in some forsaken place will not be going to webMD for disease and treatment information and then off to pick up medicine at the local chemist. They will not go to some farming website and be able to start growing shit. Information is only half of it. I can go on the line and learn how a ship is made. I am not building one though. Even if I know how. It is not a practical undertaking. I do not have access to what I need to get it done.

Re:this whole thing stinks and I don't like it. (2, Insightful)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465613)

Add something in? A used computer would need a generator a hundred times as powerful than the XO requires. Continually pedalling on a bike might work, or maybe a small gasoline generator. Yay. The XO is also meant to be durable - unless the used PC was a Toughbook, it'd quickly be trash, as would the Asus EEE and the Classmate. Not the XO.

There are plenty of places where people are surviving and have basics like clean water, but are still poor. This is something intended to give them more opportunities, it isn't the only thing they need. (Sending food, by the way, usually just ruins the local farmers and/or fattens the pockets of warlords.)

As long as it's helping the cause (2, Interesting)

moondo (177508) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465431)

It's irrelevan whether MS/Intel or Linux/AMD's product is "better". All that matters is that kids in bad situations get access to technology and information to advance their futures. If either of them is serving the cause, then it should be supported regardless on what camp one stands.

They can break anything... (-1, Flamebait)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465505)

It doesn't matter whether it is a XO or a Classmate. Those kids will break them all in 5 minutes flat. People living in the stone age can break *anything*. They have no 'feel' for technology.

If at first it doesn't work, force it, if forcing it doesn't work, get a bigger rock...

Re:They can break anything... (2, Insightful)

garbletext (669861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465629)

You are clearly an intelligent and compassionate man. Kudos to you for your extremely nuanced and well-researched opinions on the cultures the OLPC is targeted at. I hope you will consider running for political office in the future, and once you inevitably make it to president, that you suspend the constitution and act as a benevolent autocrat, guiding the world with the light of your brilliant mind.

Is Negroponte really that stupid? (1)

davmoo (63521) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465557)

Did he (or anyone, for that matter) expect Microsoft or Intel to just roll over and die? Of course they downed his product, and of course they offered competing products. That's what companies do! And if Negroponte can't handle that, he's in the wrong line of work.

Let me see who defends capitalism (5, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465607)

It is in situations like these that capitalism disappoints me. Those who tout capitalism will say that "it's a free world"..."survival for the fittest" and so on.

But in this case, companies are entering a [new] market in order to kill competition. No wonder, even in the so called developed capitalist markets of the industrialized world like Canada, no foreigner can own a majority stake in the telecommunications sector for example.

Why there is an OLPC (3, Informative)

kriston (7886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465615)

I'm waiting for my XOPC which I ordered at 6:05 AM on day 1 of the Give-One-Get-One program.

The reason for this machine and its unique interface, power saving, and wireless connection is for empowering people who do not have computing expertise, reliable power, or even telephone connections.

An important use for the machine that is overlooked is to provide textbooks to children in areas which simply don't have textbooks.
The laptop has an important reflective screen for e-book reading.
Imagine having all your courseware on one machine that you transmit to them wirelessly?
Furthermore, Worldspace at www.worldspace.com has committed to using part of its satellite radio bandwidth to transmit courseware to areas like Africa, India, and Asia.

The free sharing of textbooks and courseware are far and away the most important aspects of this laptop.

Have you ever taken a class for which the textbooks were on back-order? These children deal with that every school day. The copier is always broken, there is never any paper or toner, and this laptop helps to solve all these problems.

Finally, a price point I can appreciate (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465627)

Hmm..... I suppose I'd pay $3 for Vista.

Congratulations! (2, Funny)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21465673)

Microsoft has cut their software to $3 each and Intel has designed their own laptop called the Classmate to sell between $230 and $300, nearly double the XO's price.

The initial demand for the XO has fallen well below Mr. Negroponte's projections as Intel and Microsoft have successfully argued that their entries are superior. 45,000 have been ordered through the Give One, Get One campaign.


Congratulations! Now that Mr. Negroponte's been publicly screwed by Microsoft and Intel, he can officially call himself a computer manufacturer.

Way to go!

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