Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board of Intel, has made the following comment on the OLPC:
"Mr. Negroponte has called it a $100 laptop--I
think a more realistic title should be 'the $100 gadget'," Barrett was
quoted as saying at a news conference in Sri Lanka. "The problem is
that gadgets have not been successful," added the chairman of the
world's largest chip maker. "It turns out what people are looking for
is something that has the full functionality of a PC. We work in the
area of low-cost, affordable PCs, but full-function PCs, not handheld
devices and not gadgets," he added.
This comment strikes me as a fairly superficial remark which begs for more explanation. Intel is one of the early companies to make some serious commitments in the area of device and systems design for the developing world. No one knows what the definition of "gadget" is here, and no one knows how Intel knows that "full functionality" (a term whose definition keeps changing) is what "people are looking for".
Intel is working in the area of infrastructure, with a serious focus on wireless, so I would conclude that it is paying close attention to OLPC, recognizing the damage to the market that could be done by OLPC as currently conceptualized. But stay tuned for further developments - if OLPC looks like it's going forward, Intel will probably negotiate a place in the food chain. After all, OLPC now says that they will require all schools to have Internet access, and this is something Intel is positioning itself to provide.
Of course, one thing no company wants is the necessity to enter a vast new market everywhere at once - this has been the death of many a company that's tried it. Intel is nobody's fool, and one likely outcome of this game would be that they set the pace of OLPC implementation by the pace of their network extension activity. But since the expense of that effort would be significant, the pace will more likely be set by the availability of extra money for network extension.
At any rate, since Intel will be in the best position to control the rate of OLPC introduction, it will be in the perfect position to phase in its own solution in a compatible fashion. This would be perfect confirmation of one of Ted Nelson's many dicta: "Everybody wants to be second".
(My original post on this topic has been pushed below the level of visibility on the menu).