Leading up to Computex, Digitimes touched base with Intel's Gregory Bryant, VP of sales and marketing group and general manager of Intel Asia-Pacific Region, to find out more about mobile computer industry developments from Intel's perspective.
Trends in mobile computing
Q: What are the key trends in mobile computing? Can we expect to see some evolution in the form factor and pricing (of mobile devices) this year?
A: At Computex last year, we began our goal of reinventing the PC with ultrabooks and that evolution continues. The first wave of ultrabook designs feature thin and light form factors with instant-on responsiveness and long battery life. We're now bringing additional features and capabilities to market with the second wave of ultrabooks. One of these capabilities is touch, which reflects the growing expectation among users that computing devices will respond to touch. We expect the first touch-enabled ultrabooks to start hitting the market later this year.
Adding touch capabilities to ultrabooks and other computing devices requires innovation in the design and shape of these devices. To create sleeker, thinner, lighter and more secure ultrabooks requires that the entire computing ecosystem work together and innovate. We need thinner panels and keyboards, and new chassis manufacturing technologies, as well as slimmer optical and hard drives, and new battery technologies. The Taiwanese ecosystem is at the forefront of these efforts.
Intel is also helping to drive innovation in these areas through our own technology development efforts and investments that we make through the US$300 million Ultrabook Fund that Intel Capital created last year. For example, Intel recently announced a technology that can reduce the power consumption of LCD panels by half a watt, which helps to improve overall battery life. LG Display plans to integrate this technology into its next-generation displays for ultrabook devices.
In terms of pricing, we expect to see ultrabooks hitting mainstream price points by the end of 2012. Ultrabooks will fill a range of price points from US$699-1,199 in 2012. With the first generation of ultrabooks, we saw a number of systems come to market at different price points, and we expect that to continue as the second generation of ultrabooks, based on the third generation Intel Core processor family, come to market throughout 2012.
Q: What do you see as the key computing trends in Asia Pacific and emerging markets?
A: Asia-Pacific today stands at the forefront of global technology growth and innovation. There is growing demand for computing devices of all kinds across emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, driven by robust economic growth and a rising middle class. Emerging markets, such as Indonesia and India, will account for most worldwide growth in the PC and smartphone market over the next few years, with demand for cloud services and applications on the rise.
Asia-Pacific also plays an increasingly important role as a global center of technology innovation. It's no accident that the first companies to bring ultrabooks to market last year - Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung - are all based in Asia. These companies are fearless innovators and they're helping to lead the industry forward. We expect to see this trend continue as Asian companies drive more innovation around ultrabooks, smartphones and tablets in the coming years.
Q: What are Intel's themes at Computex outside of ultrabook and Ivy Bridge?
A: Our theme this year is "Innovation Connects Us All." We chose this theme to reflect the close partnership that exists between Intel and the Taiwanese ecosystem. We are working closely with Taiwanese companies to help deliver engaging, consistent and secure user experiences across a range of devices and the cloud. The computing industry has evolved beyond talking about technical specifications to focus on how we can enable the best, most compelling user experiences, and you'll see that reflected throughout various Intel keynotes and events at Computex this year. We're also going to showcase the next-generation of Intel technology and the great work that our partners and customers are doing.
You'll also see us focus on cloud computing and data centers. Intel is working with our partners to combine cutting-edge manufacturing technology, new silicon features, and innovative software to deliver the building blocks to scale cloud-based applications and services. We're also investing in new approaches to manage the vast amounts of data being created, and providing both software and hardware capabilities to embed security into datacenter infrastructure.
Ultrabook and Ivy Bridge
Q: Are there specific requirements for a device to be called an ultrabook?
A: Yes. Some of the ultrabook specifications relate to the form factor, such as how thin the systems should be, while others relate to battery life, responsiveness, and security.
Q: How many ultrabook systems are in the market today? And how many more new ultrabook systems do you expect in 2012?
A: More than 20 ultrabook designs powered by 2nd generation Intel Core processors are available in the market today. In addition, we're tracking more than 110 ultrabook designs based on our 3rd generation Intel Core processors. This is just the start of our ultrabook efforts, but we are thrilled with the momentum built up by the first and second waves of ultrabook devices.
Q: What is Intel's take on the ultrabook progress so far? Are you still confident you'll hit your 40% goal in the consumer notebook market in 2012?
A: The goal we stated at Computex 2011 was specific to shifting 40% of the global consumer notebook market segment to ultrabook systems by the end of 2012. We've set ambitious goals, and we're thrilled with the reception to ultrabook devices so far.
Q: What are the key differences between the ultrabook systems with the Sandy Bridge processor versus the ones with Ivy Bridge processor?
A: From a technical standpoint, the second wave of ultrabooks based on our new family of third generation Intel Core processors offers improved power efficiency, twice the graphics performance, increased responsiveness, and enhanced security. This translates into a better, more satisfying ultrabook experience for end users with the second wave of systems.
Q: Is it a requirement that ultrabook must run on the Intel Core processor? Can an ultrabook system run on Intel Atom processor or Celeron processor?
A: Ultrabooks are all about giving users the most complete and satisfying, no-compromise computing experience, and that's only possible with Intel Core processors.
Q: What can we expect in the next wave of ultrabooks?
A: We saw the first wave of ultrabook devices hit the market last year. Industry and consumer interest in these new devices is high. Over the next two generations, we expect that ultrabook devices will evolve to include features like touch-screens and sensors at mainstream price points - offering a truly no-compromise computing experience.
Q: When can we see the US$699 ultrabook coming to the market? And how will Intel collaborate with the industry ecosystem to achieve this price point?
A: We expect to see ultrabooks hitting mainstream price points by the end of 2012, as volume economics kick in and companies bring a wider range of ultrabook models to market.
Q: How will MacAfee be involved in Intel's ultrabook efforts?
A: McAfee is developing anti-theft software for ultrabook devices. Available in the second half of 2012, the McAfee solution will take advantage of unique features built into the silicon of Intel chips that provide device and data protection for consumers, including device lock, data wipe and location-tracking capabilities.
Q: Will ultrabook systems be introduced in the business/corporate segment, or is just a consumer device?
A: Absolutely. Ultrabooks are intended for both business and consumer. We expect to see Intel Core vPro processor-based ultrabook systems designed for businesses hit the market later this year with our 3rd generation Intel Core processors (Ivy Bridge).
Q: AMD also introduces the "Ultrathin" category of device, how will it differ from ultrabook?
A: Ultrabooks are about more than just thinner and lighter form factors. Intel's vision is for ultrabooks to deliver a no-compromise computing experience with rich features, exceptional performance, battery life and security in an incredibly thin and lightweight form factor.
Tablet and Smartphone
Q: How will Intel position ultrabook device and tablet? What is the difference in your view?
A: Tablets and ultrabooks provide distinct and unique value propositions. Intel believes that worldwide demand for computing devices will be larger than ever in the future, not smaller. In other words, for the foreseeable future, we see tablets and ultrabooks co-existing and serving different market segments, as well as different user needs. But we also see an opportunity for convertible and hybrid ultrabooks that eliminate the need for users to carry a second device, such as a tablet.
Q: With the Apple iPad taking up dominant share of the tablet market, what are Intel's strategies to win in the tablet space?
A: I can't comment on Apple or its products, but we feel very good about the opportunity that Windows 8 presents for tablets based on our upcoming Clovertrail platform.
Q: Some Intel-based smartphones have been announced. Does Intel expect any new phones to be launched later this year?
A: Intel continues to work closely with partners around the world to develop smartphones based on Intel architecture. The Lava phone was launched in India in April 19, followed by the recent announcements from Lenovo on May 30 for China and Orange for Western Europe.
In addition, Intel has announced smartphone partnerships and design wins with ZTE and Motorola Mobility, and both companies plan to introduce Intel-based smartphones later this year.
Q: Intel and Lava in India has just introduced the Intel phone in the market, how's the market adoption so far?
A: The market response has been great, with very positive feedback from the media and analysts.
Q: Any new phones coming to the APAC market this year?
A: We don't have anything to announce today, but stay tuned for more phone-related announcements to come in the future.
Q: Can you share about Intel's collaboration on Windows 8 and ultrabook/tablet?
A: Ultrabooks will present a flagship platform to deliver a premium, full-featured Windows 8 experience. Windows 8 presents a significant growth opportunity for Intel to extend our leadership in PCs and expand into new form factors, such as hybrids and tablets.
Q: The Windows-on-ARM device in the market is foreseeable. What are Intel's competitive strengths to win in this market vs. the Windows-on-ARM device?
A: The combination of Windows 8 and Intel's industry-leading 22nm processors will deliver the world's best client computing experience. Intel has the deepest expertise of any silicon provider in optimizing and tuning for Windows to ensure broad availability, maximum compatibility and the highest levels of performance. Broad enabling for Windows 8 on Intel will happen, as it always does, and we expect hundreds of millions of personal computers to ship based on this combination.
Gregory Bryant, VP of sales and marketing group and general manager of Intel Asia-Pacific Region