Intel steals a march on OLPC

Cute, isn’t it? Wonder if Bill Gates put them up to it. (He’s been very rude about the One Laptop Per Child project in the past.) Anyway, Intel claims to be shipping this gizmo to the developing world. According to the blurb:

Classmate PCs are rugged and include features that are commonly found in today’s mainstream PCs (such as storage and built-in wireless), and are capable of running mainstream applications including video and educational software. These PCs are equipped with unique functions such as a water-resistant keyboard, an integrated educational feature set that allows teacher-student and teacher-parent collaboration, and an advanced theft-control feature using a network-issued digital certification. Intel works in each market with local software, hardware and communications companies that manufacture, distribute, service and support these Intel-powered classmate PCs.

Translation: these devices run Windows and are designed to (a) wean poor people onto Microsoft software and (b) make piracy difficult.

Over at OLPC, Nick Negroponte is not amused.

There are various differences in both the hardware and software, but Professor Negroponte believes the main problem is that his machine uses a processor designed by Intel’s main competitor, AMD.

“Intel and AMD fight viciously,” he told CBS. “We’re just sort of caught in the middle.”

Professor Negroponte says Intel has distributed marketing literature to governments with titles such as “the shortcomings of the One Laptop per Child approach”, which outline the supposedly stronger points of the Classmate.

Mr Barrett [Intel’s CEO, Craig Barrett] told CBS: “Someone at Intel was comparing the Classmate PC with another device being offered in the marketplace. That’s the way our business works.”

He dismissed claims that Intel was trying to put OLPC out of business as “crazy”.

“There are lots of opportunities for us to work together,” he said.

According to the BBC report, “Intel says it already has orders for ‘thousands’ of Classmates, which currently cost over $200 (£100).”