Intel is to open new design offices in China, India, Brazil, and Egypt as part of its strategy to build specialised products for emerging markets with different needs than the rest of the computing world.
The company's new Channel Platforms Group would be headquartered in Shanghai, alongside an office that Intel was calling a platform definition centre, a vice-president within the channel group, Willy Agatstein, said. The other offices would be located in Bangalore, Cairo, and Sao Paulo.
Earlier this year, Intel reorganised the company around the end products that use its line-up of processors and chipsets, creating groups such as the Digital Home Group and the Digital Enterprise Group.
One of the groups formed in that shake-up was the Channel Platforms Group, which gave a formal organisational structure to a group that had been in operation for about 10 years, Agatstein said.
The company's channel group was tasked with developing products for local markets where the local computing and communications infrastructure did not match up to conditions in established markets in the US and Europe, Agatstein said.
At this point, the large cities in China and India already boasted fairly sophisticated IT capabilities, but the story was very different in small villages in rural areas, he said.
In those places, PC users are faced with conditions not envisioned by product designers in Silicon Valley. Power supplies were often unreliable or intermittent, Agatstein said.
In these largely agricultural communities, computing resources could help farmers sell crops or access weather forecasts and help rural residents obtain services from their governments, but standard off-the-shelf PCs weren't always up to the task, he said.
Instead, Intel planned to work with local and global PC vendors to design systems for those users using existing Intel products, Agatstein said. Other ideas formulated by the group included motherboards for Internet cafe PCs, Agatstein said.
With PC growth rates expected to slow in the US and Europe over the next five years, PC companies and their processor counterparts are looking to emerging markets as their next source of growth.
Intel's rival, AMD, has launched its own program called 50x15, with the goal of bringing cheap Internet access to half the world's population within the next 15 years. Last year it introduced the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) as first product for that initiative.