Negroponte blames OLPC woes on Sugar

OLPC XO laptop

The founder of One Laptop Per Child has claimed that the organisation's biggest mistake was its implementation of the Sugar Learning Platform.

The Sugar software features a circular icon-based interface packed with educational games and software. The project is now being maintained by Sugar Labs, which has a mandate to expand the community around the open-source project and bring it to a wider audience of users.

"Sugar should have been an application [residing] on a normal operating system," Nicholas Negroponte told ZDNet Asia in an interview.

"But what we did was we had Sugar do the power management, we had Sugar do the wireless management - it became sort of an omelette. The BIOS talked directly with Sugar, so Sugar became a bit of a mess. It should have been much cleaner, like the way they offer [it] on a stick now."

Quite how Negroponte thinks this would have improved the XO's chances is not clear, though it's clear he believes Intel deserves its share of the blame for his project's troubles.

"It bothers me when people spoil the market," he said, referring to Intel's rival Classmate. "It's like McDonald's competing with the [United Nations] World Food Programme."

Negroponte claimed 900,000 of his XO laptops for developing nations are being used in 31 countries. Another 230,000 are being shipped, with a further 600,000 on order.

OLPC is currently beavering away on the second generation of the device, which will feature dual-touch screens.