Nicholas Negroponte, the man behind the One Laptop Per Child project and who aims to distribute millions of laptops to kids in developing countries, sees the project as being caught in the crossfire between chip giants Intel and AMD.
Negroponte says Intel is selling its competing cut-price laptop called "Classmate" for below cost in order to drive OLPC out of the market. This according to Negroponte has harmed the project "enormously" and that Intel "should be ashamed of itself."
I feel sorry for Negroponte because I think that by choosing AMD as the CPU supplier for the OLPC project he inadvertently stumbled into a battleground between these two giants and there's a good chance that the OLPC could be a casualty. Intel's out to hammer AMD on all fronts and it's not going to sit back and do nothing as the developing world buys 3 million AMD-powered OLPC machines. Good causes and business can co-exist, but there are times when business is business, and this is one of these examples.
In the end though, I have to agree with my ZDNet blogging colleague Larry Dignan:
In the end, however, I just want kids to get laptops and hopefully learn something. In the technology industry everything is colored by Windows vs. Linux, Intel vs. AMD and other turf wars. It’s all very convenient. But this thinking ultimately shortchanges the kids.
If Negroponte’s project never ships a laptop, it’ll be a success. Why? The OLPC is forcing the issue out in the open and making the behemoths rewrite the form factor playbook for emerging markets.
In the end it's not about Negroponte's project, it's about getting cheap technology into the hands of kids. It doesn't matter who does it as long as someone does.