Chip giants, Intel and AMD, are at the forefront of the mobile computing trend. AMD's technical manager, Michael Apthorpe, and Intel's channel sales manager, Andrew McLean, shared their thoughts on market direction.
What technology advances can we expect to see in mobility during the next couple of years and what are you doing to drive them?
Michael Apthorpe, AMD (MA): Next year and beyond will see a move beyond current technological configurations to transform processing technologies. Silicon-specific platforms that integrate microprocessors and graphics processors will address the growing need for general-purpose, media-centric, data-centric and graphic-centric performance. AMD intends to empower its customers to create their own unique products and solutions in this space.
Andrew McLean, Intel (AM): There are a number of key mobility trends happening. Internet access anytime anywhere, in fact broadband, anytime anywhere is a key one. In the home more people are connecting to the Internet wirelessly, and they want to access entertainment content when they are out of the lounge and even out of the house. In the enterprise, connectivity has been a trend for a while, but security and manageability of mobile clients is a big focus and opportunity. We have been addressing mobility for years with the Intel Centrino processor, and most recently with the Santa Rosa version of the platform. Early in 2008 we will be introducing the Penryn 45-nanometre processor for mobility on current Santa Rosa platforms. In the second quarter of 2008, we are on track to launch the next generation mobile platform, Penryn on Montevina. And quad-core will come to market in the second half of 2008.
Do you expect to see consolidation in the number of branded notebook vendors locally given that a small number have secured such a high percentage of sales? How many tier-one brands do you think the local market is big enough to support?
This is a hard question as the Australian people like choice and are very brand supportive. The market will support as many as the buyer will support - a bit of a catch-22 - and it is really up to the vendors. If they are still selling models and making profit they will stick around; the opposite is equally true.
AM: No, I think the overall number of tier-one notebook vendors in Australia will continue and more locals will come in. Australia has a very large market for computers, particularly given our population. Our mix of notebooks is one of the highest in the world, and it is growing. So I think our market can support many notebook vendors, and product differentiation such as gaming rigs and ultra-small devices will see to that.
Will there still be a desktop market 10 years from now? If so, in which segments do you think they will still be used?
I believe that the desktop market will be around for some time to come. The features that are offered in new technology will always take time to arrive in the mobile space but can be accessed in desktop as soon as they are released. I also think gamers embrace desktops and build all sorts of interesting systems where this is not offered in the mobile space.
AM: Desktop is still doing really well in Australia, particularly over the last couple of quarters. Our new processors and platform technologies such as vPro have given a lot of reasons to upgrade. There are markets that will still need a static device, such as home media centres and in large office environments such as call centres. Ten years is a long time, but there will be static devices that will look very different - they will be smaller, quieter and use less power.
Do you think whitebox builders can survive in an increasingly mobile world? What are their strengths/weaknesses, how have these changed in the past couple of years and what are you doing to help them compete?
MA: Whitebox builders will survive as long as people have free choice in what they want to purchase in the way of computer systems. The range and offering is expanding in the tier-one space, but they cannot offer everything to everyone. The strengths [of local builders] are that they can be flexible to the market trends and movement, unlike tier-one competitors who take time to introduce new models and features. Their weakness is that they sometimes don't have the buying power of large companies. This has changed the number and size of builders in the market today.
AM: Yes, they can survive. Desktop or static devices will continue but local system builders can build and support notebooks as well. More and more standards will come into the mobile device ecosystem and this will mean there will be more suppliers of platforms and spares to support local system builders. The strength of local players is that they have great affinity with their customers and they can produce products in shorter runs, so they can tailor offerings for their customers.
What is your key business message to mobility partners?
MA: AMD is focused on delivering the best mobile platform for the best value, offering real choice to partners and customers. Robust and innovative platforms deliver better performance through an integrated approach, offering solutions that provide a superior computing experience on a notebook PC.
AM: I have three messages. Firstly, get ready for more strong mobile growth in Australia. Get to know the technology, and sell based on what customers need - not just clock speed but power consumption, size, security, manageability. And finally, pick your markets, be it small business, gaming, government - there is so much scope for volume and differentiated products.