With new CEO Brian Krzanich in place, $13 billion set aside for capital investment for the year, and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) research laboratories not just churning out groundbreaking product, but peering into all dimensions of the future of computing, Intel seems well focused on tomorrow.
From the new Haswell chip, that could redefine PC computing, to its Xeon Phi coprocessor, that drives the world's-fastest Tianhe-2 supercomputer at the Chinese National University of Defense Technology, Intel looks determined to drive (and take advantage of) the future world of computer technology.
Intel won't be fooled again
As the tech world regards mega-chipmaker Intel as behind-the-times in the worldwide shift to mobile - the stock softening a few ticks accordingly - has Intel taken this as a cue to put more into defining computing industry next steps? Check new Intel products and potential impact:
- New Haswell chips- laptops lasting a whole week on one charge, tablet touch devices with the power of a desktop . . "For mobile PCs, Haswell is all kinds of awesome," Jeremy Laird of techradar says. "You could even argue it's the beginning of a new era of computing."
- Next generation of Xeon Phi™ technology, codenamed "Knights Landing," promises to extend Intel's supercomputing leadership.
- Table-top computers (like in the Vaio Tap 20) where Intel sees families or friends coming together over a game - if the price cooperates.
Ultrabook 2-in-1, portable devices that switch tablet to ultrabook by separating the keyboard from the display, with fourth-generation Intel processors promising touch screen, wireless display, voice assistance, stylus, near field communication [NFC] tap-to-play, high-resolution display - all with gesture and facial recognition. Our face, voice, and gestures will be our password. [Zaman]
Whether these exact products, or product concepts, change the future, or win in the future marketplace, they show Intel's organizational commitment to put themselves out in front and stay there.
Push to perceptual computing
Nowhere is this more obvious, nor more potentially groundbreaking, than in Intel's thrust into touch-free computing - where we interact with our devices using hand gestures, voice commands, and facial tracking. They just bought Israel-based Omek Interactive, a mover-and-shaker in gesture tracking and movement recognition technology, whose cutting-edge products can track full-body movements and finer detail hand and finger gestures.
Intel hopes to see perceptual computing go mainstream soon. The company recently:
- released a software development kit [SDK] to help developers take advantage of their new interactive capabilities;
- talked up its perceptual computing platform at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco;
- announced a $100 million fund to invest in software and application projects involving perceptual computing;
- closed submission for its Perceptual Computing Challenge with a $100,000 grand prize for the best use of their related technology. [PCWorld]
If successful, this perceptual computing push could add a flood of new user experiences to the PC and give the desktop a new cool factor. Says Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights and Strategy: "Intel wants to be leading the industry in the next generation of device interaction."
Even more pertinently, as Russell Holly of Geek sees it:
Intel's goal moving forward is to offer a comprehensive suite of perceptual computing tools that will make ultrabooks and ultrabook convertibles future proof.
What competitors are doing
The future is uncertain, of course, and the competition never holds their positions. Perhaps they'll define the future their own way, get there first, and reap the rewards Intel's aiming for. Which one should you bet on?
Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) seems to be hitching its wagons to Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8.0 fix, Windows 8.1, announcing the next round of RT tablets will run on its Snapdragon 800 chip. "Qualcomm continues to build on its relationship with Microsoft by helping to launch and optimize the newest build of Windows for Snapdragon, Windows 8.1 RT," the chip supplier said. [c|net] Qualcomm's Luis Pineda confirms: "We're very optimistic with the future of Win RT and we see continued success."
Intel is as large as the next two companies in market share. With a long history of driving computing technology from the chip level, its chances are hard to discount. A $110 billion company can hardly be the elephant in the living room - rather the gorilla that does what it wants to, even if that involves creating the future its own way. As Jeremy Laird of techradar sums it up:
Where Intel has failed us, those failures are entirely intentional. Where it has succeeded, it reflects Intel's current and likely future priorities.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.