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Intel chairman harshes on MIT's OLPC

Ryan Block, @ryan
12.09.05
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Craig Barrett

Running the world's largest chip company we wouldn't think Craig Barrett (any relation to Syd?), chairman of Intel, would have the time or wherewithal, let alone the temerity, to publicly trash on the Negroponte / MIT Media Lab's philanthropic OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program, but apparently the competition to Intel's low-cost PC agenda got the best of him and he threw down today with: "Mr. Negroponte has called it a $100 laptop — I think a more realistic title should be 'the $100 gadget'," and that "It turns out what people are looking for is something that has the full functionality of a PC. [Something] reprogrammable to run all the applications of a grown up PC… not dependent for hand cranks for power." We're not going to dwell on Barrett's argument that a device's speed and power source (and not its form-factor) determines what type of device it actually is, nor are we going to bother correcting his obvious misunderstanding of what the OLPC is actually capable of. But we think the real crux of Barrett's argument — that the world's poor want a full-featured PC — is ridiculously flawed. Why? Because the OLPC is intended for populaces so impoverished that the majority have probably never even used a full-featured PC before. But hey, we certainly do get a kick out of a multi-millionaire businessmen yammering on about what the world's poor really want from a computer while the competition is, um, hanging out with Kofi Annan and garnering UN support.

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