A non-profit's dream of giving away laptops to millions of kids in developing countries, bridging the technology divide, is being derailed in part by competition from well-known companies such as Intel and Microsoft, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The One Laptop Per Child Foundation, which proposed the idea for a $100 computer in 2005, could be reduced to a niche player as for-profit companies threatened by the low price, develop their own competitors.
The OLPC computer did not use software from Microsoft or hardware Intel, the PCs longtime leading firms. Instead it used the freely available Linux Operating System and chips from Intel competitor Advanced Micro Devices.
The device is rugged, small and runs on relatively little power. Its screen can be seen clearly even in direct sunlight.
The Journal reports that countries such as Lybia, which had planned to buy up to 1.2 million OLPC computers are having second thoughts. The country will now buy at least 150,000 Intel Classmate computers.
Rising costs have also caused the OLPC computer to lose sales. After the computer's technical requirements were upgraded it now costs $188 to make rather than $100. Nigeria has not yet honored a pledge to buy one million computers.
While Intel joined the OLPC board and contributed millions in development after accusations it was undermining the project, its computer appears to be winning, the Journal said.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has lowered the cost of its operating system, offering developing countries versions of its Windows software and Microsoft Office suite of applications for $3.
Problems with upgrades and incompatibility with Microsoft products has also been one of the project's drawbacks.