All entries for Tuesday 05 June 2007

June 05, 2007

One Laptop Per Child Project Gets Heavyweight Competition

Developing the Digital Heart of Africa 

We have covered Nciholas Negroponte's One Lap Top Per Child project elsewhere on this blog. The project was planning to produce a wind-up computer with a Linux operating system with a robust build that could communicate wirelessly with qa local transmitter. The plan would put internet based computing into the centre of countries with very weak telecommunications infrastructure providing a huge boost to the educational system and enabling new voices to develop and be heard globally. Negroponte's ideas were to be run by a not for profit company.  

In a flippant mood I suggested to visitors that they email the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to stump up some money and send a few thousand of these computers out to Africa or wherever. Bearing in mind that these computers don't run on Windows this was a little cheeky I admit. But of greater significance is the fact that a real commercial battle is developing as the BBC has reported today as computer chip global giant (3,000 pound gorilla) Intel has announced that is producing a rival computer in conjunction with Asus the world's largest motherboard maker:

The laptop has been dubbed the Eee PC - and will sit alongside Intel's Classmate which is also aimed at the developing world.

The partnership with Asustek is the latest twist in a developing battle between the chipmaker and rival group, the One Laptop per Child foundation.

Both plan to offer sub-$200 laptops.

Intel Classmate

The Intel Classmate which already is aimed at the underdeveloped world.

Intel has a World Ahead development programme

What is interesting is that presumably the new machine will be able to run the cut down version of Vista which Microsoft is designing for the underdeveloped world. One is reminded of the desperate battles fought by cigarette companies to get people in these countries smoking on a regular basis. Often it is possible to by cigarettes individually. Just as you don't get the whole package of cigarettes so you don't get the whole computer package but you get an excellent taster all the same.

This tends to show that big comapnies can respond to brave initiatives from the not for profit sector. In the long term history may well note that Negroponte's determination to provide affordable  computing for the underdeveloped world  forced the world's companies to move for fear of competition!

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