The 21 hardware bugs he links to don't even begin to cover all the ridiculousness.
One bug I'm intimately familiar with is the "first open-source SD card implementation" in the custom CaFE chip that turned out to be neither -- Marvell never released the HDL sources, the only documentation is a PDF that lists but doesn't describe registers, and it doesn't really implement SD. Originally if you slept the CPU, on wakeup the SD card would disappear from the bus, which absolutely fucks you if you were booting off of it. The only fix I found was to add a 1s wait to the wakeup process -- the design target for the entire sleep/wake cycle was <100ms!
I've been fighting my own little private war against Mr. Negroponte's XO project for some time and it's for just these reasons. The XO has always been a crappy notebook. It was "built by press release" so it looked real good on paper. All the politicians and pundits could smile and praise the $199 computer that would bring poor kids into the next century. While behind the scenes anyone who took a real look knew it wasn't usable.
So Mr Negroponte and a bunch of crooked politicians in third world countries get to look great by foisting crap onto already taken avantage of poor kids.
So yeah, I don't credit them with the netbook idea. That credit goes to the hardware people who drove down LCD and computer prices.
The machines in the 'subnotebook' category cost at least five times as much!
A pity, because they sure are shiny.