Intel (NSDQ: INTC) is determined to help shape the future of computing one way or another, and promised to put serious dollars behind the Ultrabook concept in 2012 during its opening press conference at CES 2012. The MacBook Air-like Ultrabooks promise mobile computing without the compromises inherent in tablets and smartphones and will incorporate touch-screen interfaces at some point in the future.
An Ultrabook is really just a very thin laptop, designed to provide a familiar experience to PC users in as lightweight a package as possible. Intel has been talking about these devices for several months now, but with partners like Acer and Asus starting to unveil devices at CES, Intel promised to create a campaign reminiscent of its Centrino push to evangelize integrated Wi-Fi in notebooks around 2003.
The fact that Intel had to go back to 2003 in order to reference a huge successful marketing campaign just goes to show how much the computer industry has changed in those 9 years. PCs are still with us, of course, but they are no longer the types of devices that consumers covet, and the category has grown very slowly over the last few years with the exception of Apple’s Mac lineup.
There’s not much that distinguishes the Ultrabooks shown off during Intel’s press conference from Apple’s MacBook Air, but Intel promised some new technology for the Windows 8 versions of the Ultrabook, including support for a touchscreen interface. Just a “concept” model was shown Monday, but touchscreens combined with keyboards and trackpads could give software developers interesting possibilities.
Intel would desperately like to get into that mobile market, however, and will almost assuredly unveil its latest attempt tomorrow during CEO Paul Otellini’s keynote address. That market is growing much faster than the PC market–thin devices or not–and has so far been dominated by rivals like Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM), Samsung, and Nvidia using ARM’s chip designs.