As we reported earlier, Intel has withdrawn its seat from the One Laptop Per Child’s (OLPC) board of directors, as a result it says of recent demands from the OLPC to quit its own competing project, called Classmate PC.
Classmate PC is Intel’s low-cost mini-laptop, geared for school children. Intel confirmed that the OLPC board asked it to stop supporting non-OLPC platforms.
The chipmaker initially resisted joining OLPC, which currently distributes a $200 mini-laptop called XO that is powered by a microprocessor from Intel’s chief rival Advanced Micro Devices…
Intel eventually joined OLPC’s board last year, and there was discussion about an Intel-powered version of the OLPC’s mini-laptop, as well as a version running an ARM processor. OLPC said its relationship with had Intel broken down and cited a lack of cooperation on Intel’s behalf.
Well it seems the gloves are now well and truly off, as Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of OLPC has just issued the following statement: I clip here in its entirety as it makes interesting reading.
“We at OLPC have been disappointed that Intel could not deliver on any of the promises they made when they joined OLPC; while we were hopeful for a positive, collaborative relationship, it never materialised,” said Negroponte.
“Intel came in late to the process and joined an already strong and thriving OLPC Board of Directors made up of premier technology partners; these partners have been crucial in helping us fulfil our mission of getting laptops into the hands of children in the developing world. We have always embraced and welcomed other low-cost laptop providers to join us in this mission. But since joining the OLPC Board of Directors in July, Intel has violated its written agreement with OLPC several times. Intel continued to disparage the XO laptop in developing nations that had already decided to partner with OLPC (Uruguay and Peru), with countries that were in the midst of choosing a laptop solution (Brazil and Nigeria), and even small and remote places where Intel has no real interest (Mongolia).”
“Intel was unable to work cooperatively with OLPC on software development. Instead, over the entire six months it was a member of the board, Intel contributed nothing to OLPC. Intel never contributed in any way to our engineering efforts and failed to provide even a single line of code to the XO software – even though Intel marketed its products as being able to run the XO software. The best Intel could offer in regards to an “Intel inside” XO laptop was one that would be more expensive and consume more power – exactly the opposite direction of OLPC’s vision.”
“Despite OLPC’s best efforts to work things out with Intel and several warnings that their behaviour was untenable, it is clear that Intel’s heart has never been in working collaboratively as a part of OLPC. This is well illustrated by the way in which our separation was announced single-handedly by Intel; Intel issued a statement to the press behind our backs while asking us to work on a joint statement with them. Actions do speak louder than words in this case. As we said in the past, we view the children as a mission; Intel views them as a market.”
He even said that Intel’s departure from the board will actually benefit OLPC: “The benefit to the departure of Intel from the OLPC board is a renewed clarity in purpose and the marketplace; we will continue to focus on our mission of providing every child with an opportunity for learning.”
Whatever you think about the OLPC project — some believe what these children most need is enough food and fresh water, not a connected laptop — it certainly courts its share of controversy for a non-profit organization.