San Francisco: The world’s largest chipmaker, Intel Corp., split from a foundation working to provide $100 (Rs3,950) laptops to the developing world, ending a six-month truce with the non-profit group’s founder, Nicholas Negroponte.
The company reached a “philosophical impasse” with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) foundation and Negroponte, who’d asked the company to exclusively support the group’s XO laptop, Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said on Thursday.
Intel joined the board of One Laptop per Child in July, teaming up with a former critic. Negroponte had accused the company of trying to put his project out of business by developing a similar laptop called the Classmate PC. With Intel on its board, the foundation expected the firm to abandon support for the Classmate and other rival products, Mulloy said.
“It’s unusual anyone does an alliance with a company the size of Intel and then gives that company an offer they can’t accept,” said Rob Enderle, president of the San Jose, California-based research firm Enderle Group. “The OLPC folks should know Intel couldn’t accept the deal.”
A call on Thursday to OLPC in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wasn’t returned.
“After more than six months of discussion on this key point—which is, ‘Do we provide exclusive support to XO?’ —we mutually agreed to go our separate ways,” said Intel’s Mulloy. “If Intel were to exclusively support the XO over other platforms, it would force us to abandon our relationships and commitments with local manufacturers and suppliers.”
Negroponte called Intel “shameless” on the 60 Minutes news programme last May, saying the chipmaker was selling its Classmate PCs below cost in order to undercut the XO device.
The XO is built with chips from Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Drew Prairie, a spokesman for that company, didn’t return email and phone messages seeking comment.
Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, had developed a working prototype for an XO laptop based on its own chips, Mulloy said. That project is now discontinued. Intel plans to keep supporting the Classmate PC and other low-cost computers, including ASUSTeK Computer Inc.’s Eee PC.
The Classmate, depending on what software is included, is “slightly more pricey” than the XO, which currently costs about $188, Mulloy said. The group plans to bring the XO’s price down to $100.