I’ve been a big fan of the “$100 laptop project” ever since Nicholas Negroponte made it public. The idea that tens of thousands of kids and adults located in remote and poor areas of the world will get a chance of being exposed to computers and the Internet for such a cheap price struck me as one of the best charity ideas I heard in a long time.
Negroponte has had to face numerous challenges along the way, and even until very recently, there were still a lot of people claiming that the project would never succeed.
They were wrong.
The laptop finally happened, and even though the price ended up being more expensive than initially announced (in the $160 range), the computer is real (I played with one) and is now beginning to ship to countries interested in buying them in batches. And of course, its price will decrease in the coming years.
Intel recently announced their own laptop initiative which, of course, will run on an Intel processor, as opposed to Negroponte’s computer, which uses an AMD. Initially a very strong opponent of Negroponte’s project, Craig Barrett, Intel’s CEO, made an about face and decided to put his company behind a similar effort.
It all sounded great to me. The more computers for the kids, the better, right?
Negroponte doesn’t seem to agree and he’s now accusing Intel of trying to drive him out of business:
Intel should be ashamed of itself.
What’s even more shocking about Negroponte’s stance is that “One Laptop Per Child”, the foundation he created for this project, is purely non-humanitarian and non-profit. How can he then justify his hostility toward a project that would make computers available to even more children than he had ever dreamed of? Is this a case where personal pride is taking over charity goals? Does he prefer to go down in history as a disgruntled first mover instead of the inventor of the $100 laptop?
I can understand that he might be angry at Intel for trying to derail the project in its early phases, but isn’t there a picture that’s greater than these two men?
What’s the worst that can happen? More computers at a more affordable price?
Come on, now. Just think of the children.