March 12, 2003 11:50 AM PST
Intel does the Centrino shuffle
Centrino was created by Intel
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The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker ushered Centrino into the United States at an event at Manhattan's Hammerstein Ballroom. The launch is part of a $300 million promotional campaign for Centrino, which chairman Andy Grove recently described as "second only to the introduction of Pentium."
The energy efficiency and ease of wireless access provided by the bundle could put Centrino-powered devices on a par with creations such as the transistor radio or the microwave oven, said the company.
The Centrino launch comes at a key time for the tech industry to deal with changes "in the usage pattern of real people using real technology to solve problems," Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, said at a meeting before the launch event.
"People are really ready to use this technology. You all lug your laptops around with you. You look for phone jacks?or increasingly for wired connections in hotel rooms," Barrett said later in a keynote address. "What we want to do is provide an alternative to that."
By 2005, research firm Gartner expects that there will be 44 million users of wireless "hot spots" worldwide and that 80 percent of all commercial notebooks sold will be wireless-enabled. Computer makers, but also service providers, hope to profit in this wake.
Intel and PC manufacturers expect the Pentium-M chip to be the predominant notebook chip in the U.S. market by this time next year. Wireless will grow rapidly, too. Thirty-five percent of notebooks shipping at the end of 2003 will contain integrated wireless capabilities, predicts analyst firm IDC.
The new Pentium-M processors range from 900MHz to 1.6GHz in speed, with a 1.7GHz Pentium-M likely to appear in the second
More than just chips
Intel's new Centrino line--plus
branding efforts and investments--
should spur the wireless sector.
As previously reported, nearly every name-brand computer manufacturer launched a slew of new notebooks containing the Pentium-M processor on Wednesday.
In addition, a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and other public spaces are opening hot spots for wireless Internet access. McDonald's recently fitted one of its New York fast-food outlets with a wireless network, granting customers bits along with bites of their food, a company executive said.
However, competition looms. Although every major PC maker plans to come out with Centrino notebooks, nearly all of them are also coming out with Pentium-M computers that use non-Intel wireless products.