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Intel-OLPC split for the 'better'

Intel's exit from the One Laptop Per Child alliance puts an end to the bickering, and refocuses efforts on getting low-cost PCs to users, says IDC analyst.
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Written by Vivian Yeo on

The departure of Intel from the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) is unlikely to have any major impact on the organizations involved, and can instead focus on serving the target market, says an IDC analyst.

"The bickering...ended up as a distraction."
-- Bryan Ma, IDC Asia-Pacific

Singapore-based Bryan Ma, IDC's Asia-Pacific director of research for personal systems, said it was "better" that the two organizations have gone their separate ways as their differences diverted attention away from helping students in developing countries.

"The bickering…ended up as a distraction," Ma said in a phone interview. "If they had gone independently [in the first place], maybe they would have achieved more progress."

Intel last week announced its decision to withdraw from the OLPC, citing "fundamental differences" in how developing countries can be helped through the use of technology. Intel alleged that the OLPC wanted the chipmaker to stop selling Classmate PC, and also refrain from participating in the production of other low-cost PC products.

Following Intel's announcement, a company spokesperson for the region told ZDNet Asia the chipmaker will continue to focus on the education sector "through both commercial and philanthropic programs".

"Intel's mission to make a difference through its World Ahead emerging markets program will continue," said Nick Jacobs, Intel's Asia-Pacific communications manager, in an e-mail interview. "We are investing US$1 billion over five years to help bring the benefits of technology to those who today don't have it."

Jacobs also confirmed Intel has plans to introduce in emerging markets, new products such as the Classmate PC, which is now available in schools in seven countries across the region. He added that the company invests more than US$100 million annually in a range of education programs, including teacher training.

Nick Negroponte, founder and chairman of OLPC, was quoted in a report as saying that Intel had "disparaged" the non-profit organization's XO laptop to both existing customers such as Peru, as well as potential ones such as Nigeria. The XO laptop currently uses AMD's Geode processor, and the OLPC had initially planned to follow up with an Intel-based version of the laptop.


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