Nicolas Negroponte’s philanthropic venture, the OLPC. Briefly, Negroponte started out with the vision of having a cheap/low cost laptop-type device that could be used in countries where it was not possible to afford the IT industry’s normal costs. These costs have always been as high as manufacturers can make it and as much as consumers will tolerate. Notwithstanding the fact that most consumers ( and business users for that matter ) do not need all the performance that is currently available, computer manufacturers ( like their pharmaceutical counterparts ) refuse to move from profit as their primary motivator. But Negroponte wasn’t bound by this ethic and the OLPC was the result.
You can imagine the chagrin in the Intel and Microsoft boardrooms ( a no-cost Linux was used as the OS on the OLPC ). There’s no way you could have a small startup possibly beginning the seed of low cost computing with poorer countries and suffering the possiblity of having that seed grow into the wider market. If you thought AMD’s and EUComm’s legal interest in Intel’s anti-competitive business practices was big, I think this could end up being even bigger – big business trying to rubbish a chance to help the poor.
We’ve always had a Intel-dominated market here in SA, primarily for the exact reasons that AMD currently has a lawsuit against Intel in play. But to a large extent I thought this had been done away with – surely Intel wouldn’t carry on its wheeling and dealing with this lawsuit going on. I got an unpleasant surprise at a recent distributor event here in Cape Town. I asked why the distributor did not have AMD products in its lineup and went on to explain that my colleague and I, had not sold an Intel processor-driven system in years, for a number of reasons including power consumption, cost and performance ( a few comments from others after the meeting echoed this ).
The response was telling: Intel would take away the distributor’s option to sell Intel products!
So much for a competitive market. This distributor has and will unfortunately have to do without our business; if they, and others, continue to bend to Intel’s will, I believe that common moral business ethics will prevail and Intel will end up a footnote in IT history. Long live the OLPC …