Intel's second generation Classmates land; Does OLPC need to play catch-up?

Intel's second generation Classmates land; Does OLPC need to play catch-up?

Summary: Intel at its developer forum on Thursday unveiled the second generation of its Classmates educational "netbook" and the move highlights some of the reasons behind the rift between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child foundation.First, the news of the day.

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TOPICS: Intel
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Intel at its developer forum on Thursday unveiled the second generation of its Classmates educational "netbook" and the move highlights some of the reasons behind the rift between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child foundation.

First, the news of the day. Intel rolled out its second generation Classmate and our resident education IT expert, Christopher Dawson, gives the device high marks. Dawson wrote:

I think Intel (and the OEMs that end up distributing these machines in mature markets) are going to have a serious hit on their hands, especially in the educational and home markets...Both machines I received were running Windows XP; we'll see how this evolves come June, but Intel will also be shipping me a Classmate loaded with Edubuntu shortly (the Edubuntu version was also unveiled at IDF). Previously, I had tested first-gen Classmates running Mandriva (loved it) and Metasys Linux (this was fine, but I didn't feel like it could compete with the look and feel of Mandriva). Performance from the 900MHz Celeron M's was quite acceptable, but no anti-malware software was running or installed.

Dawson's review (gallery) highlights one of the issues that Intel with OLPC. The Intel-OLPC partnership ended with a high-profile bang in January. The OLPC said Intel was a bad partner that disparaged its XO laptop in developing markets. Intel said the OLPC wanted the chip giant to kill the Classmate.

Connecting a few dots one issue between Intel and OLPC may have been the speed of product development. Intel obviously has more than emerging markets in mind. The U.S. education market also appears to be in play. For its part, the OLPC has quietly updated its software and is focused on training in emerging markets.

Simply put, Intel is aiming to create more generations of Classmates and move the ball forward. For Intel, new features are the hook and the customer goes beyond the emerging market. In contrast, the OLPC's product roadmap (unboxing gallery) is limited and mostly focused on the third world. Add it up and the OLPC-Intel marriage was doomed from the beginning.

The larger question is this: Which approach is better? Are Intel and the OLPC competitors? Or are the two devices completely different animals? I'd argue the latter, but there will be a few head-on collisions.

Topic: Intel

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9 comments
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  • OLPC aim is slightly different

    If a recent OLPC vs ClassMate trial in Nigeria featured by BBC is any guide. The two computers are built for different purposes. With OLPC, student can take the computer home, but with ClassMate, it is very much a traditional storage->classroom->storage model. Difference is important, with ClassMate it is about using software under instruction, with OLPC it is exploring the computer. Hence, we cannot directly compare both.

    Moreover, OLPC seems to be aiming at younger students (again assuming the trial is any guide). If so, the difference between the two just increased.

    Both OLPC and ClassMate need to evolve. The pressure on ClassMate is higher, coz it is a traditional PC model.
    sinleeh@...
  • OLPC is years ahead of the Classmate

    It is Classmate that needs to catch up with OLPC.

    The OLPC is design to survive in harsh environments, while the Classmate is pretty much nothing more than a smaller version of a regular laptop.

    With OLPC you get Linux with TONS of software, including lots of educational software, games, and OpenOffice. With the Classmate you get WinXP and nothing more.

    It is good to see others trying to make an affordable laptop. But what good is a cheap laptop if you have to purchase all the software you need separately. In the end the cheap Classmate won't be cheap at all.
    wackoae
    • Unless . . .

      You get the Classmate with Edubuntu, or Mandriva (or their equivalents). Then the 'Difference' as you suggest, is gone.

      Apparently you didn't read the whole article. Shame on you.
      JLHenry
  • Great to see the innovation and competition. All started by OLPC.

    The Classmate would have never seen the light of day if not for OLPC. But, the two are also complimentary.
    DonnieBoy
  • RE: Intel's second generation Classmates land; Does OLPC need to play catch

    The new Classmate looks nice, but let us remember that Intel is pursuing a different strategy than OLPC. Intel is following the standard oem strategy of uping the hardware specs every year or two, and keeping the price constant.

    OLPC, on the other hand, is keeping the hardware specs constant so the price keeps droping, eventually reaching something like $50 in a few years.

    The result is that Intel will sell many millions of laptops, but OLPC reach a far larger group that can't possibly afford Intel's products, and so it is going to have a far greater positive impact on the world.
    Eduardo_z
  • We always asume that 3rd world countries will be content with less...

    I remember decades ago an experiment by General Motors to make a car for the 3rd world: it was literally a box (fiberglass) on a rudimentary chassis... but then you could buy a second hand Toyota for the price... 3rd word countries have 1st word aspirations. If you see pictures of China now you see people driving Passats, not Yugos... So, lets see how it goes with the OLPC - anyway, I think just by bringing the issue of computing for the rest of the world to the table, the OLDPC has achieved part of its goal...
    Roque Mocan
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