Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Intel are a bunch of dicks!

The BBC reports on how "Intel 'undermined' [the OLPC] laptop project". Intel, screw you. I have little doubt that Intel are the wrongdoers in this scenario. These are, after all, the same pricks who publicly badmouthed the very idea of such a laptop a couple of years ago before suddenly churning out one of their own.

Here's OLPC's press release regarding the matter (from

January, 4 2008 - We at OLPC have been disappointed that Intel did not deliver on any of the promises they made when they joined OLPC; while we were hopeful for a positive, collaborative relationship, it never materialized.

Intel came in late to the OLPC association: they joined an already strong and thriving OLPC Board of Directors made up of premier technology partners; these partners have been crucial in helping us fulfill 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 on numerous occasions. Intel continued to disparage the XO laptop in 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 other countries contemplating a laptop program (Mongolia).

Intel was unwilling to work cooperatively with OLPC on software development. Over the entire six months it was a member of the association, Intel contributed nothing of value 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 efforts – 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 stated mandate and vision.

Despite OLPC's best efforts to work things out with Intel and several warnings that their behavior 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 singlehandedly by Intel; Intel issued a statement to the press behind our backs while simultaneously 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.

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.


Darwin said...

I'm confused. I read a few news reviews of the $100 laptop, thus I assumed it's already available. So does Intel pulling out change it or was that just a 'prototype premier' type thing?

Antimatter said...

You're correct in that it is finalized and available, though not really directly to consumers - they sell to governments in large quantities, though there was a scheme where consumers could buy two with the second one going to a school.

The issue here is that Intel, who were vocal critics of the project, created their own laptop and tried to steal away OLPC's potential government customers through negatitive propaganda (and purportedly through unethical means). One of the issues Intel had was that their prcessors weren't used by OLPC (AMD, their main competitor, provided them), so the two sides eventually agreed to work together - this would have allowed Intel to make a processor for future versions of the OLPC laptop as well as contribute to software development.

What happened instead was that Intel apparently didn't contribute at all, and continued to try and supplant OLPC. Intel's pulling out here isn't a bad thing, because they weren't really contributing, they were just pretending to play nice. They're only committed to pushing forward their own inferior product into these markets, even if they have to behave unethically to do so.