“PCs have become more important now,” Prakash Mallya, VP & MD for marketing at Intel India, said about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the silicon business, adding that consumers and businesses are now realising that they could not do many of the functions as easily on a phone as they did on a computer. “They cannot learn effectively on a smartphone, they cannot collaborate on a smartphone versus the PC.”
In an interview with indianexpress.com, Mallya politely hit back at critics by saying “the proof of the pudding is in eating”. He was reacting to critics targeting Intel for lack of innovation, amid an increase in the competition coming from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
Citing the example of Intel’s new 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs and ‘Evo’ platform brand, Mallya said the innovation around the new processors for laptops, which features company’s new integrated Xe graphics, show how the Santa Clara headquartered tech major has progressed over the years.
“Whenever you think of mobility, you think of smartphones but that’s not true because mobility is as much about PCs,” he said, underlining how Intel started PCs as a category and finally progressed it to mobility.
Mallya said Intel has been instrumental in moving the PC ecosystem forward and that led to the birth of the modern-day PCs. “ We created a new platform on our side, we engage with our OEM customers, our ODMs, the component manufacturers and the supply chain, all to create new platforms that are transformational versus the previous generation,” he explained.
Mallya likes to call Intel’s new Evo platform, which is the second iteration of its Project Athena certification program, transformational. He said the laptops with the Intel Evo branding will be able to provide over nine hours of battery life in real-life use cases, as well as delivering four hours of charge in less than 30 minutes, wake from sleep in under a second, support Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4. Over 20 Evo-certified laptops will be available later this year.
“We are innovating on hinges, we are innovating on materials, we are innovating on motherboards to shrink that motherboard to increase the battery life so that the span of the battery goes up, and we are shrinking the motherboard also to create antennas, which increases the Wi-Fi capability. The innovation to transform notebooks from where they were to what they are going to be in the next three-five to ten years is Project Athena,” he said.
The launch of 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors and the new Evo brand comes at the right time for Intel. PCs, in general, have been one big gainer in the coronavirus pandemic. Worldwide sales of traditional computers have jumped in the second quarter of 2020, according to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). That’s good news for both Intel and its biggest OEM partners like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer.
The coronavirus pandemic has, in a way, debunked the theory that a smartphone has replaced computers and laptops. “PCs have become more important now that consumers and businesses earlier thought I could do this on the smartphone, but they realised that they could not do many of the usages as well on a smartphone as they can on the PC,” he said. “They cannot learn effectively on a smartphone, they cannot collaborate on a smartphone versus the PC.”
The company’s 11th generation of Core notebook processors, as well as the evolution of Project Athena, could be crucial for Intel’s future in the long run. The company, which helped increase the penetration of PCs in the mid-1990s, has faced a lot of headwinds in recent years like the rise of ARM-based devices, AMD taking on Intel and the delay in next-generation 7nm chips. On top of that, Apple recently said it plans to move away from Intel’s processors in favour of its own chips.
“Apple is a very strong customer for us across various business segments and we will continue to serve them,” Mallya replied when asked about whether Intel will be better off without Apple.
As Intel moves to a new era, the company is rebranding with a new logo and brand identity that reflects the changing times. This is the third time Intel has changed its logo. The last two big brand identities were changed in 1969 and 2006.
“This brand identity, we believe, is reflective of the new world that we are aspiring to contribute to as Intel, and is consistent with the innovation, the purpose, the mission that we have, the employees that we would aspire to, or the talent that we aspire to attract and retain the in the best interest of creating world-changing technology to enrich the lives of every person on earth,” he said.
For the past decade or so, laptop makers have dabbled with various form factors like convertibles and 2-in-1s. What would the next decade look like?
“There won’t be a single form factor that will touch every need in the market,” Mallya replied. “There will be multiple form factors and we believe that in the form factor innovation and the platform innovation, we are driving as a part of Project Athena or our 11th gen processors gives opportunities for our OEM customers to truly build on those capabilities to create form factors which are game-changing.”
Intel’s OEMs are hard at work developing dual screen or foldable laptops that show how the notebooks would look like in the coming years. Microsoft Surface Neo, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold and Dell’s foldable or dual-screen concepts tell a lot about the laptop of the future powered by an Intel processor.
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