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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 03:21 GMT
Intel 'undermined' laptop project
By Jonathan Fildes
Technology reporter, BBC News, Las Vegas

Boy with XO laptop
Tests of the XO are going on around the world

Intel repeatedly undermined a not-for profit scheme to bring cheap laptops to children in the developing world, the head of the charity has told BBC News.

Nicholas Negroponte accused Intel, which makes a rival PC, of underhand sales tactics and trying to block contracts to buy his machines.

The groups united in July 2007 after a series of rows but split last week.

The head of Intel Paul Otellini said an accusation that the firm had failed to deliver on promises was "hogwash".

"I don't want to get into specifics but we met every obligation that we were committed to," he said.

Professor Negroponte responded: "My version of events is not hogwash.

"Why would I throw away the six million dollars they were supposed to give us yesterday? Why would I do all of these things unless I was stark raving mad?"

'Repeat offender'

Professor Negroponte said the firm had left after a series of disputes.

"They were selling laptops with their brand on it directly to exactly the same people we were talking to.

Classmate PC users
The Intel Classmate is currently being tested in Nigeria

"They would go in even after we had signed contracts and try to persuade government officials to scrap their contract and sign a contract with them instead. That's not a partnership."

Mr Negroponte cited an example in Peru where Intel sales staff tried to persuade the country's vice-minister of education, Oscar Becerra Tresierra, to buy the Intel Classmate PC.

Peru has ordered 270,000 XO laptops from OLPC.

Mr Negroponte said that similar events had happened "time and time and time again".

"Each time it happened they said they would correct their ways. It's a little like cheating on your spouse, or alcoholism, or something you just can't eventually fix and we had to finally part ways."

Education tools

Last week Intel said the two parties had split because OLPC had asked Intel to end "support for non-OLPC platforms, including the Classmate PC, and to focus on the OLPC platform exclusively".

Mr Otellini told BBC News: "The premise that we actually divorced over is that there is not one solution. No one company, no one solution has a monopoly on kids."

Both firm's laptops are designed for use by children in the developing world.

The rugged XO machine, which its makers say will eventually cost $100, features a sunlight readable display and open source software. It uses a processor designed by Intel's rival AMD.

The more expensive Intel machine can run Microsoft Windows and is part of a wider education initiative by the firm.

"Intel has invested a billion dollars over the last 10 years alone in education around the world," said Mr Otellini.

Both parties were speaking to BBC News at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Intel's Paul Otellini rejects criticism of the company

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