Saturday, January 5, 2008
The Little Laptop That Couldn't be Had
Life struggles, especially those facing the poor - food, shelter, fresh water, and now affordable laptops - are always big stories of interest. They get a lot of attention. You may say this is a business story. But some of the best stories young foreign correspondent can pursue have a business or economic focus.
John Markoff of the New York Times details how how Intel and Nicholas Negroponte have been fighting over a plan to put inexpensive laptops in the hands of the worlds poorest children. Seems Intel and Microsoft found this idea creative, but a little too threatening to their future bottom lines.
SAN FRANCISCO — A frail partnership between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child educational computing group was undone last month in part by an Intel saleswoman: She tried to persuade a Peruvian official to drop the country’s commitment to buy a quarter-million of the organization’s laptops in favor of Intel PCs.
Intel and the group had a rocky relationship from the start in their short-lived effort to get inexpensive laptops into the hands of the world’s poorest children.
But the saleswoman’s tactic was the final straw for Nicholas Negroponte, the former Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer researcher and founder of the nonprofit effort.
He demanded that Intel stop what he saw as efforts to undermine the group’s sales, which meant ceasing to sell the rival computer. Intel chose instead to withdraw its support from One Laptop this week.
The project has been a lightning rod for controversy largely because the world’s most powerful software and chip making companies — Microsoft and Intel — had long resisted the project, for fear, according to many industry executives, that it would compete in markets they hoped to develop.
Alfred Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent"