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Intel walks out of OLPC project

Last year's announcement that Intel was joining the OLPC program came as a surprise to a number of tech journalists but not the resignation, which happened (opens in new tab) within only six months.

After all, Intel, like Microsoft, did not approve of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project in the first place and Intel's chairman, Craig Barrett, previously dismissed the OLPC as a "gadget" before embarking on a copycat plan to launch the Classmate product which eventually gave way to the hugely popular EEE PC from Asus.

The reason Intel walked out was apparently because the company rejected calls to stop supporting other efforts in emerging markets which are jeopardising the OLPC project and cited "philosophical" differences.

In a statement back in July 2007 on Intel's website, the company answered unequivocally yes to questions raised over whether Intel is committed to make XO better and whether the OLPC is committed to make Classmate PC better. The website also mentioned that "Both parties will continue to develop a family of laptops that meet the needs of children and teachers. Over time, we expect there will be more opportunities to develop complementary technology."

This now means that Intel is going to push its Classmate platform even further towards traditional OLPC customers - third world countries and governments, NGOs etc - selling the laptops at a loss and making a profit out of the backend support, for example through its servers.

Last week, the OLPC chief technology officer Mary Lou Jepsen left the organisation to "pursue commercial interests (opens in new tab)".

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.