Out of line-marketing

I have already been following news surrounding the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project from MIT professor Nicolas Negroponte for quite a while because I think it is a fascinating project. As you probably know, the project aims to provide every child on this earth with a computer that should cost no more than $100 USD. The computers should result in a closing of the digital divide that exists between rich and poor people accross the globe. A lot can be said about the project but I want to raise a question about the marketing of a low cost computer. Apparently, Intel has launched a rival to the OLPC called the Classmate. Negroponte says that Intel is bashing his project in trying to sell its own machine:

To prove that Intel has targeted his machine, Negroponte gave us some documents Intel sent to the government of Nigeria. When Stahl shows those documents to Barrett, he says, “This is an Intel marketing document – there’s no question about that.” One document outlines the “shortcomings of the One Laptop Per Child approach” and lists the supposedly stronger points of the Classmate. “So somebody at Intel sees this as direct competition, clearly,” Stahl says to the Intel chairman. Well, someone at Intel was comparing the Classmate pc with another device being offered in the marketplace,” Barrett responds. “That’s the way our business works.””

This is odd: a for-profit organization is comparing its product with a competing product from a non-profit organization that by my knowledge invented the “category”. And both organizations say they want every kid on this planet to have a laptop. If that is the case, why compare your product explicitly to a “competitors” machine? Is that necessary? I certainly think it isn’t very chique. In my opinion Intel is out of line on this one. What do you think?

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2 comments

  1. Does it really matter? Isn’t the ultimate goal to provide every child with an affordable PC (although I should prefer a mac)?

  2. That’s absolutely the goal. So why compare to a competitor who is also trying to grow the market? I would think that there is room for both without explicitly comparing to the other initiatives. IMHO this could result in scepsis with potential buyers.

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