Intel Quits One Laptop Per Child Program - InformationWeek

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Intel Quits One Laptop Per Child Program

Intel said it left the OLPC program because the organization had asked it to stop selling a competing low-cost computer.

The seemingly endless soap opera involving the One Laptop Per Child program and Intel has apparently come to a conclusion with Intel announcing that it's leaving the program.

While the OLPC program has been trying to bring low-cost computing to poor children around the world, major high-tech players, including Intel and rival Advanced Micro Devices, continued to battle behind the scenes. The program touched millions of Americans in heart-rending publicity, including on CBS's 60 Minutes show and its reruns.

Intel, which had joined the OLPC effort in July, dropped out Thursday because of what its spokesman termed a "philosophical impasse." While the early versions of the unique machine included AMD processors, a version of the OLPC with an Intel chip had been scheduled to debut at next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The decision won't likely impact Intel financially because the Asus eee PC featuring Intel's Celeron processor is just taking off and selling fast. The low-end model eee PC is priced at $299 and is full-featured with a wide range of operating system and applications software preloaded.

In addition, Intel has been marketing its Classmate PC -- for about $300 -- to emerging markets. An Intel spokesman said the company decided to end its involvement in the OLPC program because the organization had asked it to end its support for non-OLPC programs, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The brainchild of MIT's former Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte, the OLPC's computer has received high marks for its original design, which includes a power crank and a unique sun-friendly display, and its ruggedness. Originally expected to cost $100 a machine, the price has crept up to the $200 area as typical commodity computers have seen their prices drop.

The OLPC uses a Linux operating system. The Asus eee PC also uses a Linux operating system as well as a version of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, which helps to set the stage for a coming battle between the custom OLPC and generic commodity PCs like the eee PC.

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