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Innovation

Hey Dell...Wanna sell some Classmates?

Now that OLPC plans to distribute OLPC XOs in the States through OLPC America, I sent Agnes Kwan, Intel spokeswoman, an email asking if Intel planned to compete in this market with their Classmate PC. We had a chance to catch up today since I'm buried under 14 inches of snow and can't bring myself to tackle shoveling my driveway just yet.
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Written by Christopher Dawson on

Now that OLPC plans to distribute OLPC XOs in the States through OLPC America, I sent Agnes Kwan, Intel spokeswoman, an email asking if Intel planned to compete in this market with their Classmate PC. We had a chance to catch up today since I'm buried under 14 inches of snow and can't bring myself to tackle shoveling my driveway just yet.

First off, as Intel continues to emphasize (and I think most of us believe), there is room for a variety of solutions to 1:1 computing, even in developed markets like the United States. While Intel doesn't have immediate plans to compete with OLPC America (and, in many ways, because of their differences in approach, doesn't consider the Classmate a direct competitor), Intel continues small domestic pilots and is in discussions with domestically-based OEMs.

Which brings us to the headline of this story. Ultimately, since Intel doesn't manufacture the Classmate, but instead develops the design specification and partners with local OEMs who produce the small laptops, they need an OEM with distribution infrastructure in the States. In rural India or Nigeria, such an infrastructure doesn't exist yet and Intel is working to develop it. However, we obviously know how to sell and buy computers here in the States quite well. Digital Divide or not, with some basic funding, Dell could ship you a PC. As Ms. Kwan pointed out, this really comes down to finding a suitable OEM to pick up the spec and begin distribution.

The model in mature markets would, of course, be different than that for developing countries (and several models could exist in parallel). However, Ms. Kwan saw no real barriers to a school district being able to place an order for any number of Classmates, just as they would for Latitudes, Optiplexes, Pavilions, or [fill in your major vendor's PC of choice here].

So how about it, Dell? HP? Lenovo? Anyone care to break into a new market here in the States? I'm sure Agnes Kwan would be happy to speak with you; she's very nice. I'll place the first order.

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