We almost feel sorry for Nicholas Negroponte. No sooner does
he leave his cushy post at the MIT Media Lab to head the OLPC project on a full-time basis than he faces war drums from
all sides. First Bill Gates slapped him
down, declaring with man-of-the-year certainty that the developing world needs a good smartphone
more than a crank-up laptop. Now, Microsoft's sometime tag-team partner Intel has hit Negroponte from the other side,
declaring that the company has plans for a $400 laptop that will make Negroponte's box look like, well, a windup toy.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini chose Brazil to announce the Edu-Wise, which will be a full-fledged, Windows-powered mini-PC.
While the prototype Edu-Wise box Otellini showed off in São Paulo looked pretty good, we suspect that a $400
price tag will put it out of the price range of most developing world customers, unless it's heavily subsidized. We
also think there's a good chance that the $400 price won't even stick; after all, we seem to recall a recent Microsoft/Intel project for a small, full-Windows computer
that was initially meant to hit the market at about
$500. Last time we checked, those boxes were going for closer to a grand. Apply the same math
to this, and we don't see it coming in for any less than $750 -- not exactly pocket change for most developing world