They tried bribery, they tried bullying. And both worked. But only for a little while….

Mandriva had closed a deal in mid-August to provide a customised Linux operating system and support for 17,000 Intel Classmate PCs intended for Nigerian schools, but found out last week that the company deploying the computers for the government, Technology Support Center (TSC), planned to wipe the computers’ disks and install Windows XP instead.

Now, however, a government agency funding 11,000 of the PCs has overruled the supplier. Nigeria’s Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) wants to keep Mandriva Linux on the Classmate PCs, said an official who identified himself as the programme manager for USPF’s Classmate PCs project.

“We are sticking with that platform,” said the official, who would not give his name.

[source]

There is still a chance that Microsoft will prevail and become the operating system “of choice” for the Nigerians….

Microsoft is still negotiating an agreement that would give TSC US$400,000 (£190,323) for marketing activities around the Classmate PCs when those computers are converted to Windows.

Wow. A bribe of nearly a half million dollars. Go Bill Gates!

“Microsoft is able to offer a comprehensive education solution – including software, training and support – on the 17,000 Classmate PCs for 200 schools across Nigeria,” the statement said.

After public statements from Mandriva officials implied the marketing deal is legally questionable, Microsoft said last week that it complies with international law and the law of the countries in which it operates.

Complying with the law? In Nigeria? Do they understand how funny that is

I strongly suspect that Microsoft will win this one. All they need to do is to keep paying more and more in the way of extortion, and they have the pockets to do this. The Nigerians will not have the will to resist.

Comments

  1. #1 Joseph j7uy5
    November 12, 2007

    Regarding those “marketing activities”…How much marketing does it take to get a schoolkid to take what the teacher hands out?

  2. #2 david1947
    November 12, 2007

    M$ created the Classmate PC with Intel specifically to destroy the OLPC effort. Although the OLPC costs (>$200) have unfortunately exceeded initial hopeful goals ($100), they still have to actually sell the units. M$ are GIVING the >$400 Classmate away so that Nigeria etc will not buy the OLPC instead.

    I have seen these units side-by-side. Even with a Linux distribution on board, the Classmate will be a disaster.

    It is bigger, heavier, nowhere near as robust (OLPC keyboard is water-proof), shorter battery life, screen does not work in sunlight, no crank power, no mesh networking, closed-source OS and applications, etc etc. All of which are critical factors to a workable solution for far-flung villages well off the grid and the Internet backbones.

    I cannot even begin to weigh which is the worst offense. The computers, both of them, are too small to be stand-alone solutions. The ad-hoc mesh networking the OLPC folks implemented allows the population of school-kids on their OLPC’s to share the nearest Internet backbone connection, possibly several villages away, through which they will be getting most of their coursework and conducting most of their social interactions etc.

  3. #3 Richard Parker
    November 13, 2007

    I had a certain amount of ‘commercial experience’ in Nigeria during the 80s, so, I’m sorry, I just don’t believe your report of Nigerian computer rationality has any basis at all.

    I experienced:
    - The Minister of Health, himself, across his own huge mahogany desk, flinging back my stealthily-advanced ‘gift for signing the contract’ ($20,000) because the notes were Naira and not Pounds Sterling.
    - the immigration officers at Lagos airport arresting me for not having the full ‘resting period’ on my Yellow Fever vaccination. 7 days detention in a ‘quarantine centre’ or something in cash – $100 in pound sterling notes.
    - persuading (ie bribing) the inspection officer for SGS that a leather-upholstered Chesterfield sofa, destined for the ‘Lagos Hilton’ was really ‘a package of books for schoolchildren’.

    Enough – Nigeria is one of the most corrupt nations on earth.

    I cannot, cannot, cannot believe that Linux won over Microsoft on any rational decision.

    Microsoft is simply getting over-soft with its 3rd world employees.

    My best Nigerian agent, for a time, had an official Government post (and security pass) with the title: ‘Son-In-Law-President’.

    Sadly, he was hanged, alongside a few colleagues, on Bar Beach, a bit east of Lagos, in February, 1984, and somebody left a boom-box playing ‘Those Were the Days, My Friend’

    I’ve hardened up a bit now, but I cannot stop the tears welling whenever I hear that tune.

    regards

    Richard