Intel Plays In All The Fields But Size Matters!
“Well, that’s right, Professor Frederickson, and that all matter is made up of not only density but of empty space, and if we can proportionally reduce the amount of empty space in any given object, we can, thereby, shrink the object.” – Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis), Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
We always enjoy the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) because 98 percent of the time the demos work. When they don’t work, you’re pretty sure no one will get sent to the Bering Seas to work on The Deadliest Catch series. No sweat this year! Craig Barrett, Intel’s chairman, wanted everyone to know that the company was just flush with fresh ideas (see photo) so he waved around and talked an itty-bitty something you couldn’t really see. Heck could have been one of his new fishing lures … who’d know? Of course Paul Otellini, Intel Prez, had to show off their huge silicon platters with a gazillion chips on it. To hear him talk you’d think that everything we use everyday would be useless without his chips. Look around … he may be right. For him it was all about performance, raw speed. Obviously if you need an excuse to upgrade your devices every six months it is all about speed, performance! Glad the wife wasn’t there. She would have been so ticked about her new, barely used, now outdated Dell notebook.
Notebooks Still Cool
What’s not to like about a good notebook computer? You can do everything with the sucker! Photos … music … video … search … work … study … stay in touch. It’s no wonder notebook sales have equaled and surpassed desktop sales. The numbers just keep growing. They’re so popular, so versatile that we have two categories … those you work with and those you slip into an envelope. Where’s the machismo with the light systems from Apple, Lenovo and others? Used to be a badge of honor to have you knuckles drag on the floor from carrying your luggable computer. Sheess now first graders stuff the units in their backpacks and take them to school. The power systems are “pretty” light … ok pretty!
The envelope systems are downright ridiculous. People keep trying to make them lighter but there is only so much you can do … Add all the parts together and you’ve got a weight “problem”. Since they can’t change the laws of physics they figured they’d simply make you change the way you think about and use computers.
One of the first out of the chute (right after OLPC) was Asus with their eee – dumb name, pretty good idea. Oh sure it was light weight, used socialist (Linux)-based operating system, (small) solid state drive and was relatively cheap.
Barrett convinced them of the errors of their ways though and brought Asus out a Windows / hard drive world. True, that raised the price a little. But folks come on? We’re talking Windows! We’re talking HDs! As Wayne Szalinski said … “I think that went well.”
Teens and Tweens like the idea of a netbook and operating in the cloud. But then … they didn’t know life BI (Before Internet). Netbook prophets say it’s going to be a huge market WW. So big that every manufacturer on the planet is bringing out their small, cheap netbook … and cheaper … and cheaper and … Otellini loves it … more chip sales! Asus wants to keep ahead of the game so they have started offering their flavor of storage in the cloud. Then they added fashion systems that smell (ok they call them fragrances but really… ). At the really low end of the shrink-your-tools spectrum lots of us learned to tolerate the Blackberry. Not a half bad phone … good for email … lousy for typing. Everyone mimicked them, largely to no success.
Then Jobs had to come along and muck up the waters. Ok so the phone part of his iPhone sucked but sheess … gotta admit it is cute. You know surf the web … watch your videos … look at your photos … play your iTunes … email … shave … cook eggs … all the really important stuff! And people quickly glommed onto the new mobile activities. It no surprise that a recent Simmons New Media study found that there are more mobile phones in use than cars (800M) or computers (1.2B). But what they’re doing shows people need to be constantly connected:
- 59% text messaging
- 49% taking photos
- 20% emailing
- 19% accessing the Internet
- 13% taking videos
- 6% banking
- 5% accessing GPS positions
- 2% shopping
If you listen to Jobs, the mobile everything sellers and the Kool-Aid drinking forecasters you’re probably asking the same question Professor Frederickson asked … “Mr. Szalinski, are you trying to tell me that suddenly size is no longer relative?” Oh they’re good, they’re fun, they’re useful. The pocket-sized, thumb-dislocating multimedia devices show plenty of growth potential.
In fact, the entire mobile device market continues to show promise. But profit margins are grim … except for Steve. The iPhone and “enhanced” versions will do well in today’s mature markets (Canada, US, Korea, Japan, Australia, most of the EU). Money may be tight but folks justify the coolness factor. Emerging countries (Brazil, Mexico, India, China, Russia, etc.)? Somewhat. The ROW? They’d be happy to make a call, let alone worry about emailing or online banking! Barrett and Otellini aren’t concerned about one device (design win) replacing another. Petaluma (CA) is not going to replace their World Armwrestling Contest for thumb wrestling. Our kids schlep their notebooks with them. They have their iPhone look-alikes. They have their iPods. Son has his netbook and PSP. Daughter has her camera. We’ve got their battery chargers!
Pile ‘em On
People don’t suddenly discard one communications / entertainment device for another. They add to their arsenal of work / play toys. Sure it would be cool if you could shrink and unshrink them in the blink of an eye because then as Wayne emphasized, “And given that my machine can substantially reduce the size of bulky payloads.” That isn’t possible … yet. So we buy pants with bigger pockets … bigger purses … stronger backpacks. We’re certain that Otellini’s team (in some deep, dark lab) is working on a computer on a chip that can be implanted because let’s face it, that’s a six billion market that overshadows PCs and phones! Of course if its Windows based you’ll probably crash periodically or need to reboot. Remember those problems never happen with Macs or Linux systems. And of course no one sends those folks viruses or Trojan horses or hacks ‘em! Just remember … drinking Kool-Aid and driving don’t mix!