RealTime IT News

Intel Opens Centers for Emerging Markets

The world's largest chipmaker wants to capture more of the world's market for its chips, motherboards and other components.

Intel is going about that goal with a new program targeted at select geographies. Called "platform definition centers," the program provides locally relevant computing solutions, based on Intel technology, of course.

The goals of the new program are anything but modest. Bill Siu, general manager of Intel's recently formed Channel Platforms Group, said he believed Intel's push to address the specific needs of local markets "will stimulate PC adoption for the next one billion users."

The first definition centers are being established in what Intel considers to be four key markets: Bangalore, India; Cairo, Egypt; Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Shanghai, China. The centers will primarily serve the South Asian, Middle-East and African, Latin American, and East Asian regions respectively.

"While we serve a broad spectrum of resellers around the world I came to the realization that we need to define and develop products in emerging markets that we probably wouldn't think to address on our own," Willy Agatstein, general manager of Intel's channel development group, told internetnews.com.

The definition centers will look at such factors as the local environment and marketplace requirements specific to each region, including inclement weather, intermittent power supply, and specialized content needs for consumers and small businesses.

But there aren't any plans to offer discount or special pricing to these emerging markets where only a small percentage of the populace can afford their own computer. "People always talk about price, but if you sit down with them and ask 'What problems do you have?' and 'What kind of solution would you like?' You come up with a proposal and the conversation moves away from price," said Agatestein.

Intel also said it's taking a comprehensive platform approach in its channel business by integrating hardware and software components that are tested and validated for interoperability. The goal is to make it easier for channel customers to build and bring platforms to market more rapidly, to enhance their competitiveness.

Intel already has a number of localized platform solutions under development in several countries. A "learning PC" launched earlier this year with a local OEM in China was designed to specifically address Chinese parents' concerns around using a PC to improve their children's education. The unit comes with a physical key that allows parents to lock the PC into learning mode plus a tablet monitor equipped with pen-based input for children to practice writing Chinese characters.

Another example of an integrated hardware/software solution was recently developed to meet the growing IT needs of Internet cafe owners in countries such as China and Brazil. Internet cafes never reached the popularity levels in the U.S. as they have in other parts of the world. But Agatstein said that in China it's not unusual for an Internet cafi to be bustling with several hundred users going online at a time. Intel developed a platform that combines Intel motherboards with manageability software to allow for centralized monitoring, security and repair. Though initially designed for Internet-cafis, Intel believes the platform may have other applications for groups using computers.

Asked whether Linux or open source software might find its way into the development centers rather than the predominant "Wintel" combination of Intel hardware and Microsoft software, Agatstein demurred.

"When you go around the world you see there are different usages that require different operating systems and software," he said. "I don't think anyone's decided applications. There should be room for everybody."