Intel’s CEO makes multifaceted mobile push at CES

by David Needle

January 10 2012

The buzz among Windows hardware makers is the new generation of Ultrabooks, thin and light notebooks with far more performance and full features than other lightweight PCs such as netbooks. As expected, Intel CEO Paul Otellini highlighted the latest Ultrabook developments in his CES keynote, though he also broke some news on the smartphone and tablet side and was joined by musician will.i.am who talked about a new Ultrabook Project he's involved in.

LAS VEGAS -- While Ultrabooks were the main focus of Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s CES keynote Tuesday afternoon, he spread the wealth to smartphone and tablet news as well. Otellini welcomed Lenovo to the stage so the China-based computer maker could introduce the first smartphone based on Intel architecture. But those looking to see the phones in the U.S. will be disappointed as Lenovo plans to debut the Atom-based K800 smartphones in China first. There was no timetable or mention of any U.S. release. 

In a demo, the K800 showed snappy performance playing various videos and games on its 4.5-inch display projected onto a big screen for the audience to see. Liu Jun, Senior Vice President at Lenovo, said the K800 can stream HD content to big screen TVs and offers  “incredible performance.” 

Intel’s smartphone effort isn’t limited to Lenovo as the chip giant detailed a smartphone reference design it said other smartphone makers can leverage and also announced a “multiyear, multi product” partnership with Motorola Mobility. Sanjay Jha, chairman and CEO of Motorola Mobility, said his company’s first phones using Intel’s technology will be shown off this summer with commercial availability shortly thereafter. 

Otellini also briefly showed off a sleek-looking tablet based on an Intel reference design running Windows 8 that Intel is making available to hardware makers. He said Windows 8 is going to be “good for developers and great for consumers” because today’s Windows 7 apps will work on the new OS without needing to be rewritten or ported. 

“Windows 8 promises great new experiences for tablets,” said Otellini. 

Utrabook turns tablet

Later Otellini showed another reference design device, one of the new generation of Ultrabooks. But noting he doesn’t think consumers should have to compromise by picking one device over another, he showed how the screen on the Ultrabook could be recessed transforming the device to essentially a tablet for media consumption. Vendors such as Lenovo have offered notebook models with similar "convertible" features. 

For Android devices, Otellini also said Intel has moved some of its “army of engineers” on the Windows side to to help test and to help improve Android apps. 

will.i.am and the Ultrabook Project

Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am joined Otellini onstage to talk about the company's “Ultrabook project” he’s involved in that includes  a world tour showing off new music. The musician joined Intel as Director of Creative Innovation a year ago. He said he recently took the ultrabook on a trip to Japan and the experience of creating music has been far easier than what he’s done for years on desktop PCs. 

Right before blasting out one of his latest songs will.i.am drew laughs for declaring that Ultrabooks are “the new ghetto blasters.”

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