Throwing Money at Shiny and Worthless Technology
The Lebanese government is buying technology that nobody wants for unlucky students
Intel, the glorious microchip maker, is facing an existential problem. It was the king of the world powering big PCs that sit on your desktop, but lately it is losing market share because both iPads and Android tablets skipped its chips in favor of smaller, lower-powered competitors like ARM. The company finds itself is in a bind: Tablets are the future and Intel has lost the tablet war.
Intel had to find a way to get into the tablet market, but people only want to buy iPads and Android-powered ones. So Intel surrendered the consumer market altogether in favor of enterprise “solutions”, like its new Intel learning series “solution” for education, which relies on tablets nobody heard of with operating systems nobody heard of running proprietary education software nobody heard of. To sell those, Intel was looking for suckers, and in minister Nicolas Sehnaoui, it found the perfect sucker.
Why everybody loses, except Intel and Sehnaoui
The technology is not necessarily bad, but it is untested and it doesn’t have wide market adoption. This means it doesn’t have a rich ecosystem of content (like books), and it means that books that are already there will be expensive and uncompetitive. Moreover, the tablets will be harder to fix because your average corner tech shop has no experience in dealing with MANDRIVAs. Compare that to iPads and Kindles which not only have hundreds of thousands of standard books and textbooks, but they also make it easy for teachers and publishers to create their own books cheaply.
The latest deal benefits Intel: The company gets to sell tablets that nobody wants and provide expensive software “solutions” that doesn’t have any competitors. It also gets to sign maintenance agreements with the Lebanese government and it will hold the keys to every book that will be published on its platform.
The latest deal benefits Minister Sehnaoui. He gets to boast to the world that he’s bringing “tablets” and technology to Lebanese students. He gets to pretend that he’s making Lebanon some sort of a high-tech destination with incredibly absurd boasts like this one: “We are trying to make the digital economy a mainstay of job creation and service export to place Lebanon at the crossroads of civilizations and religions, and a platform to attract international companies”
Everyone else loses: Tax payers and donors for paying for this junk, and students who will eventually ignore this useless thing…