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Intel Classmate PC versus OLPC XO

an image of Nicholas Negroponte and Kofi Annan demonstrating the OLPC laptop computerThose who’ve followed me following the One Laptop Per Child XO laptop computer know that I like the project. I not only like the project, I also like the product, too. Yes, some could argue that the XO laptop is under-powered, but that’s to use the yardstick that you & me are more familiar with measuring stuff against.

If you live in some far-flung village in the middle of Africa, to coin a local Yorkshire phrase, owt is better than nowt (which translates as: anything is better than noting.)

What the Ars Technica article provides is a straight comparison of the Intel Classmate PC and the OLPC XO, what the article doesn’t do is touch on what I think is a missed opportunity for Intel.

And it’s a significant opportunity, too.

For me, here was a chance for Intel to set aside their immediate commercial interests and think long-term by partnering with Nicholas Negroponte et al, put their considerable hardware know-how and industry weight behind the One Laptop Per Child project and help build a better XO laptop for less money.

What further disappoints me is that we’re now going to have two competing models out there, chasing after the same market.

Ordinarily, this would just read like capitalism at work. Problem is, this is a market that needs stability and consistency, not competition and the onerous prospect of choosing one from t’other.

I’ll not regurgitate the specifications of the two laptop models. You can read through that stuff for yourself.

What I will say is, if someone from Intel is reading this article, here’s your chance to make a real difference at the expense of an immediate ROI. Do the right thing and back these guys and get one product out there in the hands of the kids that really need cost-effective, robust mobile computing, just like the rest of us…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.