Intel – One Laptop Per Child partnership failed in Peru

January 6th, 2008

The One Laptop Per Child program, that aims to produce and sell its XO Laptops for $100 dollars and sell them en-masse to 3rd world countries for use by children in schools, as you may have heard in the news has lost chip-maker Intel as a partner.

Despite early promises by dozens of countries to buy the laptops in the hundreds of thousands for their children; as of yet hardly any of orders have been realised. The lack of orders means the laptops have not been able to be produced in high enough numbers to keep the price down to $100. The program came up with new ways to get laptops to children such as the Buy one Give one effort.

While this was unfolding, Intel was going out of its way to undermine the project – accused to be trying to break the market for XOs with its own laptops sold at a loss. XO Laptops were seen by Intel as a threat, whose chips were made by rival AMD at a special price. Getting millions of third world children computer-literate by buying XO laptops would mean the few 10s of thousands of Intel chips that would otherwise be bought would not be.
To counter Intel’s hostility, non-profit One Laptop Per Child organiser Nicholas Negroponte invited Intel to join the program and also produce chips for the XO. Intel agreed, but continued their work to undermine the XO with their own products anyway, angering Nicholas Negroponte.

But it was in Peru that the final blow was dealt by Intel that has ended the partnership.

Peruvian President Alan García, is the leader of one of the few countries that actually went ahead with bulk orders of the XO laptops, ordering 250,000. Despite his Government’s confirmation of the order, an Intel Saleswoman tried to scupper the deal. The New York Times reported that Intel attempted to persuade a Peruvian minister to drop the XO Laptop in favour of a more expensive Intel-based machine with partner Microsoft’s operating system. The XO deal went ahead however, and Peruvian children are now beginning to enjoy the ultra-cheap low-power laptops.

Intel’s actions were the last straw for Nicholas Negroponte, who demanded Intel stop undermining his charitable project. Intel’s responded publicly; “At the end of the day, we decided we couldn’t accommodate that request.” Intel then ended its partnership saying it had “philosophical” differences with the non-profit organisation.

More details here.

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