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Intel moves into wireless

A bit of hype from on Intel's new wireless chip, Centrino. Obviously Intel is looking at WiFi with interest, but between that and presenting it as if it's something so crucial? C'mon. Intel is a huge company.

They do face some risks though, as a related Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) says:

Ten years ago this month, Intel Corp. thrust the word Pentium on consumers who had never cared about a computer chip. The company soon learned the perils of becoming a household word, after a mathematical flaw triggered harsh publicity and a costly recall.

Wednesday, Intel will take another risky step in brand-building. With Centrino, its moniker for a new bundle of chips for notebook computers, the company is linking its reputation to one of the most problem-plagued facets of modern computing: connecting to the Internet over a wireless network.

"If we do our jobs, you won't have to fiddle with it for an hour to make it work," says Andrew Grove, Intel's chairman. "It's pretty ambitious."

And pretty scary. Computer users are rapidly upgrading their laptop machines to use a new wireless technology, dubbed Wi-Fi, that is being installed in airports, cafes and other public places. But many encounter some sort of technical hassle along the way. Linksys Group Inc., a big seller of Wi-Fi networking devices, says three out of five customers call its technical-support line seeking help.

Yet Intel is betting that it can create a new image for reliability, and bring Wi-Fi to a much broader audience. That means heading off an array of potential headaches -- not just in its own chips, but in products and services from many other vendors that shape the wireless experience.

The effort combines ample supplies of cash and an army of engineers. Intel plans to spend more than $300 million to build the Centrino brand, including a flood of television ads based on the theme "unwire." Intel also is offering advertising and marketing subsidies to computer makers and wireless-service operators that submit to tests to show that Centrino-based laptops, which are available starting Tuesday, can easily connect with public Wi-Fi access locations, known as "hot spots."

Wireless is a good opportunity for them, they might make inroads by leveraging their PC hardware platform. What? If that is legal? Errr... well, it depends on what the meaning of the word is is ...

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on March 11 2003 at 9:48 AM

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