Monday, August 11, 2008

A Conflict of Interest

We have written before about Nicholas Negroponte’s , One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) mission to develop and deploy a laptop for under $100 that could be distributed to millions in the developing world bringing them education, enlightenment and information. The laptop has been with us now for a short while and has morphed into the XO. The technology deployed is ground breaking not only in its cost but its innovation. So why have only hundreds of thousands and not millions been ordered and used?

Yesterday’s Sunday Times article, ‘Why Microsoft and Intel tried to kill the XO $100 laptop’ tells the story of how the big technology companies effectively set out to undermine and squash the project. Why - To protect their own economic models and self interest.

The lesson we should note is that self interest often works at odds with others and when something radical appears that could potentially threaten the instinct is often to squash it. Publishing today has many Gorillas in its mist. We need to ensure that their objects and goals are understood and that they do not unduly conflict with those of the market and industry.

We also have to be aware of the huge potential the XO has to bring digital content to all and even change what we think about ebooks and ereaders.

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