The surprise pull-out of Intel from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project might have been down to an Intel saleswoman’s aggressive marketing tactics with an Peruvian education minister, attempting to dissuade the official from ordering thousands of OLPC XO1 units in favour of the chip-manufacturer’s own Classmate PC.
Unfortunately for Intel, the official – Oscar Becerra Tresierra, vice minister of education in Peru – is also a longtime acquaintance of OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte, and passed details of the saleswoman’s tactics to his team. According to Negroponte, this is not the first time Intel has stepped on OLPC’s toes: in October last year an Intel official supposedly gave the Mongolian government a side-by-side comparison of the XO1 and the Classmate PC, contrary to a non-disparagement clause in their agreement, and he alleges that the company has also tried suggested to potential buyers that, from their position on the OLPC board, they were aware that Negroponte’s company was experiencing troubles.
“They played another dirty trick in Peru. It’s a little bit like McDonald’s competing with the World Food Program” Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC
Intel still maintains that the disagreement and its resignation was due to “a philosophical impasse” based on the two low-cost machines. Estimates for this years XO1 sales have been dropped from five million to 2-3 million, with OLPC promising the announcement of a “major order” on Monday.