Government Technology

Unwiring the Wired

April 28, 2003 By

In March, Intel launched its new Centrino mobile technology, which includes a new mobile processor, related chipsets and 802.11 (Wi-Fi) wireless network capabilities that have been designed and tested to work together.

Intel supported the launch with a distinct "unwired" international advertising campaign in 11 countries. "To help illustrate the freedom and flexibility that Centrino mobile technology brings, the 'Unwire' ad campaign humorously depicts people moving their work to surprising and unusual locations," said Pam Pollace, vice president and director of Intel's Corporate Marketing Group.

The intended message is summed up in print ads that proclaim, "Intel has an urgent message for the wired world: Unwire." The advertising effort is designed to sell Centrino's technology, which will enable wireless capabilities in smaller, lightweight PCs and make them truly mobile.

Intel's commitment to unwire the wired world forms an essential part of the company's overall strategy for coming years -- a strategy that spans both Intel's computer chip and cell phone product divisions. "Our ultimate vision is that every computing device will communicate and that every communications device will compute," said Daniel Francisco, a spokesman with Intel's Computing Products Division. "It is what the industry has for years called convergence."

A key part of that strategy was designing Centrino from the ground up with mobile computing in mind. Baked into Intel's views are the four key drivers of mobility -- high performance; low power to promote longer battery life; integrated, innovative form factors that will allow smaller, lighter notebooks; and wireless.

Wi-Fi Awakens the Mobility Market

For Intel, betting on wireless is all about Wi-Fi -- and the belief that with Intel's help, this will proliferate rapidly. "We really see Wi-Fi as an exciting technology, just as exciting to us as the browser was back in the early '90s," Francisco said. "What the browser did for the PC and communications -- well, we really see a replay with Wi-Fi."

Intel Capital, Intel's strategic investment program, developed the Intel Communications Fund. The $500 million venture capital fund makes strategic investments, based not only on different technologies with which Intel wants to be involved, but on outside investments also. Last October, the company announced it was going to dedicate $150 million from this fund to the development of Wi-Fi products.

Intel has been investing in Wi-Fi companies since 1999. Prior to the October announcement, Intel's investments in more than 15 wireless networking companies exceeded $25 million. But since October, Wi-Fi investment has become far more aggressive in pursuing the basic vision that Wi-Fi is going to proliferate everywhere, or at least in most central areas.

Intel has a "5 minute objective," the goal of which is for people who live or work in a dense urban area to always be within a 5 minute walk of Wi-Fi connectivity. In the suburbs, this will be a 5 minute drive to Wi-Fi connectivity -- through a coffee shop, retail outlet or other supplier.

To move aggressively toward this goal, Intel not only promotes Centrino, but also promotes Wi-Fi itself. Marriott International and Intel launched a joint marketing campaign to promote the availability of Wi-Fi access at 400 Marriott-owned hotels in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada. Intel made a similar agreement with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide to enable Wi-Fi Internet access in more than 150 Sheraton, Westin and W hotels in the United States.

T-Mobile USA and Intel joined to promote T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Internet service, the most widely available public Wi-Fi network with more than 2,100 locations across the country. "The Intel Centrino mobile technology represents an important step toward consumerizing Wi-Fi service, making it more affordable and more accessible through a range of integrated devices," said Cole Brodman, senior vice president and chief development officer for T-Mobile USA.

More arrangements are expected in the months ahead. "

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