The story of the $100 laptop that is being developed for children in the developing world has been warming hearts worldwide, including mine. It seems like a good idea to most people, but you certainly can’t count Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, among that group.
The machines will first be shipped to children in Thailand, Brazil, Nigeria and Egypt in 2006. Barrett is underwhelmed. “Mr. Negroponte [the leader of the MIT program that created the laptop] has called it a $100 laptop — I think a more realistic title should be ‘the $100 gadget’,” said Barrett. “The problem is that gadgets have not been successful.”
Barrett’s concern is that the new machines have a limited range of programs and are burdened with reliance upon a hand crank for power. He feels that people want a PC that works like a full PC, not something less. The inadequacy of the $100 laptop will, in his mind, limited the efficacy of the program.
Barrett isn’t just talking the talk. His company is actively working to develop low cost personal computers, but are committed to making it a fully functioning laptop.