Intel joins $100 laptop group

Intel has decided to join forces with One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) after previously battling the $100 laptop charity for a share of the developing world computer market.

Commonly called the $100 Laptop project, the OLPC charity provides hand-crank powered, Linux-based laptops to children in developing countries. As part of its Intel World Ahead programme, the firm released its own low-cost laptop, the Classmate PC, which uses either a Windows operating system or Linux.

Intel and OLPC have been battling it out in the press for years. In 2005, Reuters reported that Intel chairman Craig Barrett had called the $100 laptop a $100 gadget. "Mr Negroponte has called it a $100 laptop - I think a more realistic title should be 'the $100 gadget'. The problem is that gadgets have not been successful," he reportedly said.

This May, Negroponte told US news show 60 Minutes that Intel was selling its Classmate PC below cost. "Intel should be ashamed of itself," he said. "It's just shameless."

Apparently putting their differences aside, Intel will offer technical and educational programme support as well as join the non-profit organisation's board, which also features representatives from Google, Nortel and Red Hat.

"Intel joins the OLPC board as a world leader in technology, helping reach the world's children," said Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of OLPC, in a statement. "Collaboration with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children."

Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, said the tie-up was inline with the firm's previous work: "Joining OLPC is a further example of our commitment to education over the last 20 years and our belief in the role of technology in bringing the opportunities of the 21st century to children around the world."

Media reports have suggested that Intel chips will run OLPC's servers. One of the non-profit's board members is Intel-rival AMD, whose processor is used in the OLPC device. In a statement to the press, the company welcomed Intel's support: "Intel's apparent change of heart is welcome, and we're sure they can make a positive contribution to this very worthy project for the benefit of children all over the world."