UPDATED: Two groups that were once on a collision course have instead decided to buddy up. Today Intel and Nicholas Negroponte’s non-profit One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) announced they will combine forces to help reach the world’s children.
In a joint statement with Intel, Negroponte said that collaborating with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children. Intel CEO Paul Otellini positioned the agreement as a natural evolution of the company’s efforts to expand access to technology.
“Joining OLPC is a further example of our commitment to education over the last 20 years and our belief in the role of technology in bringing the opportunities of the 21st century to children around the world,” he said.
OLPC president Walter Bender said Intel has paid a membership fee as is required of all companies belonging to the group. Its corporate membership now includes: AMD, Brightstar, eBay, Google, Intel, Marvell, News Corp., Nortel Networks, Quanta Computer, Red Hat and SES Astra.
“Intel’s contributions to our software efforts will be immediate,” Bender told internetnews.com. “There is no timetable regarding hardware.” He also said that it is “not a given” Intel technology will end up in OLPC computers. Regardless of the direction Intel’s hardware will take, Bender highlighted the crux of the agreement.
“Both Intel and OLPC realize that working together towards the mission of one laptop per child will lead to reaching the most children soonest.”
However, the road to technology humanitarianism for the organizations has been rough.
Just a few months ago, Negroponte blasted Intel for undercutting its efforts to get low-cost computers to some of the world’s poorest citizens.
OLPC’s original mission was to sell a $100 notebook computer. The system, now being pitched to developing countries, is $176 in minimum quantities of 250,000, and is powered by AMD (Quote) processors, not Intel (Quote) processors.
Negroponte said Intel has been going to the same governments that OLPC’s been negotiating with and pitching its own Intel Classmate as an alternative.
“Intel should be ashamed of itself,” Negroponte told correspondent Leslie Stahl in a 60 Minutes broadcast in May. “It’s just — it’s just shameless.”
Negroponte, who had accused Intel of selling its Classmate computer below cost to undercut OLPC’s effort, said the chip giant “has hurt the mission enormously.”
In the same broadcast, Craig Barrett, Intel’s chairman of the board, defended his company’s actions as part of normal marketing to gain new business, but also seemed eager to settle the matter.
“There are lots of opportunities for us to work together,” Barrett told 60 Minutes. He said the idea that Intel was trying to drive OLPC out of business “is crazy.”
But with today’s announcement, there are now apparently no hard feelings.
A spokesman for AMD said that “Intel’s apparent change of heart is welcome, and we’re sure they can make a positive contribution to this very worthy project for the benefit of children all over the world.
“We continue to believe that OLPC will help move that needle,” the spokesperson added. “AMD continues as a firmly committed board member to OLPC.”
The OLPC project dovetails with its 50×15 Initiative, which is aimed at providing 50 percent of the world’s population with affordable, accessible Internet and computing capabilities by 2015.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.