Intel Aims for New Mobile PC Category - Page 2

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The UMPC platform could be customized for different applications said Brad Graff, director of marketing for low power products in Intels Mobile Platforms Group in Beaverton, Ore.

It "runs the same OS and same software load as other clients do … with the same security and manageably" for corporate applications, he said. Given that, "Our customers are saying theres a lot of interest there."

Thus, it follows that the machines could also be equipped to operate on networks such Wi-Fi and, later, WiMAX and third-generation cellular networks.

But the company doesnt want to assist in creating unwieldy devices that try to be all things to all users. The UMPC isnt being designed specifically to displace a device like a cellular phone or a music player. Nor does Intel expect the category to replace PCs, Graff said.

"If [customers] want a computer they buy a computer," he said. "We believe that consumers want to buy devices that are optimized for their interests."

For example, "We think theres a resonant amount of people who would get UMPC instead of [an in car] navigation system," he said. Thats because a UMPC would cost about the same and offer greater functionality.

"If you [only] want to listen to music, buy an [Apple] iPod," Graff said.

However, buyers that might want to have one device that can connect to the Internet, access e-mail, show videos, play music and even play games would be more likely to choose a UMPC, he said.

Although Graff declined to give exact pricing targets or discuss what role Microsoft might be playing in the design of the device, more details on the UMPC work being done by Intel and Microsoft—which has so far declined to comment on its Origami project—is likely to unfold later this week.

An Intel executive will give a keynote address at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany. During the speech, the chip maker is expected to offer much greater detail on its UMPC platform hardware. Microsoft may join the speech to detail its efforts, one person familiar with the plan said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more speculation about Microsofts Origami project: Could the result be an alternative to the iPod?

Microsoft, for its part, has been working to create a new category of devices it calls Lifestyle PCs. The machines, which appear to be the same as UMPCs and thus use the Intel platform, will aim to hit the sub-$1,000 mark and offer all-day battery life.

Origami, for its part, appears to be a shell that will run on top of Windows XP and give UMPC or Lifestyle PCs a more accessible interface for launching multimedia applications, according to several sources who discussed the platform with eWEEK.

Among those offering support for the UMPC platform on March 7 were companies such as Yahoo, AOL and Sling Media, who all provide content, as well as chip makers such as Marvell Technologies for features like wireless access.

Although, given that Windows can run on all x86 chips, the possibility remains for PC makers to pair Origami with Advanced Micro Devices or VIA Technologies chips as well.

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