Lundquist: Quick Reality Check

eWeek's EIC got little help from "hot spots" on his way to the Centrino launch in New York Wednesday.

NEW YORK – I got up early this morning and took a car service to Bostons Logan airport. There were no hotspots in the car. I ran to the Delta shuttle at Logan and had no time to look for hotspots, as I was tied up trying to get my shoes back on before the airplane door was closed. In the cab to the Manhattan Center down on 34th Street, there were no hotspots. When the cab became jammed up in traffic, I jumped out and cut through Penn Station. Lots of hot spots around Penn, but not any kind Intel would want to promote. When I made it to my seat at the Manhattan Center, I fired up my aging ThinkPad with the Linksys wireless card. The card found five connecting points, four labeled Centrino and one labeled Linkys. Out of loyalty, I tried Linksys first and had no luck. However, all four Centrino connections worked. It makes one wonder.

The Intel press conference started with Mr. Tipping Point, Malcolmn Gladwell, the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Gladwell looks like a refugee from the Hair revival musical and told the audience that Centrino is as important as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the transistor and the microwave oven. Oh, please. Gladwells discussion took place under a big unwire banner, a word which will probably become the source of some new trademark war. The logo has a red Centrino protozoa living directly under the blue Intel Inside protozoa.

Craig Barrett, Intel boss, claimed the Centrino and wireless hotspots represents the first real example in twenty years of the convergence of communications and computers. The industry needed three factors, he claimed: desire, devices and deployment. He says all are now in evidence.

The requisite funny video was a takeoff on Steve Irwin - the Crocodile Hunter. Irwin played the in your face announcer for Unwired Kingdom. He made fun of folks at airports trying to find outlets and pay phones with Internet access, all the while longing for unwired access.

Anand Chandrasekhar, vice president and general manager of Intels mobile platforms, was brought out to compare Centrino to the Pentium 3 and 4 processors. The systems run cooler and last longer than the P4s and 3s according to some tiny graphics he displayed that no one in the audience could understand.

You wouldnt think there was another chip manufacturer in the world that might have prompted Intel to make the financial commitment to reverse its march to bigger, hotter chips and u-turn to smaller lighter. Anyone ever heard of Transmeta? Or AMD?

Wireless is a big deal. But its been a big deal for a long time and was the result of a lot of efforts by a lot of companies other than Intel. The 802.11 working group was first established in 1990. Id welcome some comments on when folks believe the first wireless computer-to-computer communications took place. Id credit companies such as Linksys and D-Link as doing the most to promote the idea that wireless networking was easy to purchase and deploy. The effort and money Intel is putting behind hotspots and wireless will give a boost to what has already been taking place. The co-marketing money Intel is putting behind the program is probably more important than any new technologies the company is bringing to the party.

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