Intel Cranks up the Volume for Next-Gen Ultrabooks & Gives us a Solid Clue about what's next for Apples iTunes
This year's Intel Computex keynotes did in fact deliver some very interesting new features that will be coming to market later this year. Features like their NFC "Tap to Pay" eWallet, their all new Fast Access Login feature and new ways for users to share content with future TVs. Intel even had a breakthrough announcement regarding a new device coming to market in the second half of 2014 which could be exciting. Our report presents you with an in-depth look at the keynote highlights at Computex while showing you that Apple has similar projects on record. Yet the one thing that may interest Apple fans the most is that one Intel keynote slide accidentaly revealed something new about Apple's iTunes that could play into Monday's WWDC announcements.
The first Keynote at Computex 2013 was delivered by Intel's Thomas M. Kilroy, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Sales and Marketing Group. The keynote was titled "Leading through Innovation & Reinvention."
Intel's Netbook Myth
Kilroy began his keynote going through Intel's PC milestones to build up their credibility and demonstrate that Intel invents leading trends. Where his message got a little blurry was when he described the success of netbooks. "In 2008, we were talking about netbooks as a companion device. We know what happened after two years of netbooks – just skyrocketing in sales. Little did we know that it was going to usher in companion devices like the tablet …"
It would appear that Intel actually wants to take credit for the netbook being the inspiration behind the modern day tablet. Let's be honest: the tablet revolution was a one company phenomena. Apple's iPad was an off-shoot of the iPhone, with absolutely no inspiration from Intel's netbook whatsoever. In fact, the netbook became road kill due to the iPad. Once again Intel tried to quietly twist history in their favor.
Intel's Delight in Android's Success Over iOS
Intel couldn't wait for this day to present their next slides. Kilroy stated that "The pace of change is faster than ever with new players, new expectations. The industry dynamics are almost changing overnight. For example, we all remember when Apple introduced the iPad in April 2010. For the first 18 months when you talked about a tablet it was the iPad. Last year at this very time, two years after the launch, it was still holding two-thirds of the market in tablets."
"But just in a few short quarters, three quarters, as of Q1 this year, it's flipped," stated Kilroy, adding, "And now Android is two-thirds."
I don't know how 56% market share magically turned into being two-thirds, but that's Intel's math and way of taking another stab at Apple. The funny thing was that Kilroy was actually talking about "the iPad" and not "iOS," so the stats are a little misguided. The "iPad" as a tablet is still number one in the world holding a 39% lead. Its closest competitor is Samsung at 17.9%. Though why let Kilroy's wondering statistics get in the way of Intel's marketing message.
A Quick Shift in Tablet Size Popularity
In regard to the tablet size trend, Kilroy stated that "One year ago at this point in time, most tablets were greater than 9", 10" was the norm. Obviously the large part of the pie was dominant. And today, that trend has reversed as well. More tablets are 7 inch. And while this trend is playing out, phones are going the other way."
"But it's quite logical. Ninety percent of the time that we spend on a smartphone is computing it's not talking. We browse, we play apps, we do email and watch videos on phones driving the need for larger screens. And we see rapid innovation elsewhere too," pointing to the evolution of the desktop. So [there's] lots of change occurring in tablets, in phones and the desktop."
Kilroy ended that segment of his keynote by driving home the message that the PC Industry "is on the verge of ushering in an exciting new era: The 2 for 1 era."
Patently Apple covered the Intel's message of the 2 for 1 computer era extensively in both our April report covering Intel's Developer Conference in Beijing and our January report covering Intel's keynote at CES in January promoting their coming Game Changer. The reports can provide those interested in this segment with some great background information.
Intel's Bold Forecast for the 2-in-1 Ultrabook
Intel's next keynote was delivered by Intel's Kirk Skaugen, Senior VP and General Manager of PC Client Group with his theme of "One device: countless possibilities."
We begin by covering Skaugen's slide presenting Intel's forecasts for success of the 2-in-1 Ultrabook form factor. According to Intel, they predict that the new Ultrabooks will grow 10 Times between now and the holiday season in Q4. He pointed to how pricing for touchscreen Ultrabooks had gone from $999 a year ago to today's $529 US price point at Best Buy. According to Intel, the introduction of the new 2-in-1 category is going to reinvent the PC. Fifty new design form factors will be coming to market by the holiday season.
Built-In eWallet Support for the Masses
In our April report covering Skaugen's Keynote at IDF Beijing, we highlighted Intel's eWallet project dubbed "Tap to Pay" with China's UnionPay. In his Computex keynote Skaugen's message was that their eWallet service was coming to the masses.
Skaugen stated that "A number of the OEMs are now putting NFC into the platform and today we're announcing with MasterCard a new MasterPass Wallet that uses our Identity Protection technology and NFC to simply tap your credit card on an ultrabook to pay for online transactions."
Intel's original message about this particular service was first presented at IDF last year. Our detailed graphic below was from that keynote.
It should be noted that a recent study by Gartner reduced their Near Field Communications' (NFC's) transaction value by more than 40 percent due to disappointing adoption of NFC technology in all markets in 2012, especially from high-profile services such as Google Wallet and Isis which were struggling to gain any traction.
Gartner forecasts that NFC will account for only about 2 percent of total transaction value in 2013 and 5 percent of the total transaction value in 2017. While Gartner's forecast sounds pretty gloomy on this front, I think they'll be proven wrong. Intel's new initiative with MasterCard is likely to just be the tip of the iceberg. As more credit cards come on board with Intel on this front, online shopping via NFC could be a success.
Voice Assistance Coming to Market Starting in August with iTunes as one of the Ready Apps
Skaugen then shifted to voice assistance coming to Ultrabooks and announced that Best Buy will be introducing 4 new Ultrabooks for the "Back to School" season with this feature built-in. Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and Toshiba are those that Best Buy announced, yet I'm sure that others like HP and Dell will be offering similar products in that time frame.
With Intel pushing Voice Assistance with their new Core 4 processors I have to wonder if Apple will be bringing Siri to OS X as part of their Next Wave features to counter this new feature by their competitors.
Additionally, Best Buy's promo noted above displays what Apps will be working with Dragon Assistant and it's clearly in view that Apple's iTunes is listed as one of them. If true, that's a nice slip-up from Best Buy giving us a heads-up.
A 2012 patent filing by Apple hinted at iTunes one day working with Siri. Perhaps now is that time for this to emerge. If iTunes will supposedly be working with Dragon Assistant this fall for new Ultrabooks, is it really that much of a stretch to think that Apple will include this in their next wave of new features for OS X on Monday or as an update this fall?
Panasonic's Hot Swappable Ultrabook Battery
Skaugen's next segment rounded up a few Ultrabook's coming to market later this year with some interesting new common features and some exclusive to specific OEMs. For instance, they highlighted Panasonic's forthcoming hot swappable battery that could boost Ultrabook battery life from 13 to 26 hours.
Although Apple won't offer this feature in future MacBooks, they should. Most don't care about the aesthetics at of the bottom of a notebook, so why not make it functional.
Intel's New Fast Access Login
The next feature that Intel highlighted was their upcoming "Fast Access Login" performed live on stage with a next generation 2-in-1 Ultrabook from Sony.
Intel's Skaugen stated that "we're on a path to eliminate passwords from computing. This is really about delivering a new experience. Our vision is that you are your password." The key to this system is that it works by using a "combination of your face and your voice to authenticate you...." Skaugen added that "as we go into next year we're going to make this secure for business and we're already running a pilot to login to a VPN once and never use a password again."
Intel's Fast Access Login methodology using a combination of voice and face recognition should ensure that it avoids the problems that were found in Android's implementation using face recognition alone. If it works as well as it did in the demo, it'll be a very nice feature for next-gen Ultrabook owners.
2-in-1 Ultrabooks will Support the Next-Gen Active Stylus
Skaugen was also quick to point out that Sony's Ultrabook in tablet mode was able to use the next generation smart stylus called the "active stylus" that will be coming to a wide range of OEMs later this year. For the record, Apple had one of their engineering teams work on an "active stylus" patent back in 2012 for possible use in the future.
Skaugen also noted that Intel worked on making sure that 2-in-1 systems were aware of which mode that they're in at all times. In computer mode with a mouse or trackpad, system icons will appear small while in tablet mode, system icons will automatically enlarge for easy multitouch activity.
One Flick to Share Content on Mobile Devices with Samsung TVs
Apple has a technology called AirPlay and it works fine in conjunction with a receiver called Apple TV. At Computex, Skaugen illustrated how Intel worked with Samsung to build Wireless Display WiDi right into their next generation of smart HDTVs. Intel's old WiDi methodology worked very much like Apple's in that you needed a receiver attached to a TV in order to get the content from your mobile device to your HDTV display.
Intel's next generation WiDi in conjunction with Samsung (initially) will allow the user using a next generation 2-in-1 Ultrabook to simply make a flicking gesture on the display to shoot your content over to a Samsung HDTV. Eliminating the need for a standalone receiver will make this feature a more simpler and popular one going forward. Will Apple work with TV makers to get AirPlay to do the same? I'd like to think so, but I highly doubt it being that these OEMs fear Apple moving into their space. Then again, there are a few hundred million future iPhone and iPad users that these TV companies could cater to, so you never know.
For now, it was a smart evolutionary move on Intel's part that will be appreciated by many over time as more HDTV OEMs sign on to the project. Skaugen announced that LG, Toshiba on others were on track to add this technology to their televisions in the future while Samsung's will debut theirs this holiday season.
Your Smart Devices Controlling your Desktop and TV
While we're on the topic of future TV services, there was another semi-interesting demonstration during another Intel keynote by Hermann Eul, VP of Mobile and Communications Group. Eul's presentation showed how easy it was going to be to pair smart devices like a smartphone with a desktop or larger display in the not-too-distant future. The kick to this presentation was that it was distinctly different than just sharing content like movies or photos as you can do with Apple's Airplay. This was about controlling content like photos and movies but also apps or just surfing the internet as well.
That's interesting as a patent application from Apple published in 2009 covered this very same feature. While Apple's patent covered being able to be anywhere outside your home to access your desktop, I never thought of it as an in-home solution as well. Seeing it play out in Intel's demo controlling your desktop or TV made it seem like AirPlay on steroids if it ever came to be. It also covered multi-tasking. You'll be able to shift your regular TV content from your mobile device to your larger display and be able to also continue to surf the net, look for upcoming shows without it showing up on the larger display. I think this feature will be a popular one in the months and years ahead.
Breakthrough: New Integrated 3D Depth Cameras Coming to Intel Computers in 2H 2014
A major announcement was made at Computex regarding next-generation cameras for computers. Wide-eyed Skaugen proudly announced it this way: "This may be something that we write about for many years to come. Very quietly, in the secret rooms at Intel, we've been investing in camera technologies. And this is what we believe will be the world's first 3D Depth camera integration. And our commitment along with multiple OEM partners is to put this into notebooks, Ultrabooks and all-in-ones by the second half of 2014."
Skaugen later added that tablets would be able to adopt the new camera as well. Dell and Lenovo will be the first two OEMs to bring this to market with full software bundles in 2H 2014. This could be a nice advancement for computing in the coming years so as to allow for in-air gesturing and advanced gaming.
Back in March 2013 Patently Apple posted a report about Apple's 2011 patent application for an advanced 3D camera. In our report's opening summary we stated that Apple had invented a killer 3D imaging camera that would apply to both still photography and video. The new cameras in development would utilize new depth-detection sensors such as LIDAR, RADAR and Laser that will create stereo disparity maps in creating 3D imagery.
There's no doubt that this could be a race as to who gets this feature to market first, so may the best team win. Challenges are healthy for the market at large and we as consumers ultimately win. Could iSight 3D be in the works? Only time will tell.
At the end of the Day
At the end of the day, Intel's Computex keynotes did in fact deliver some interesting new features coming to market later this year. Features like their NFC "Tap to Pay" eWallet, the all new Fast Access Login feature, new ways for users to share content with their future TVs, Dragon Assistant that may even work with Apple's iTunes and a coming 3D Depth Camera coming to market for the holiday season in 2014.
One of the key themes Intel brought to Computex was that the tide was turning in the mobile space. And like many Intel Keynotes of the past they had to get their dig into Apple. This time they delighted in seeing that Android has toppled iOS because they see this as a way to become relevant in the industry again. The introduction of Apple's iPhone using the ARM processor in 2007 was the beginning of the massive downward trend for all things Wintel. Intel in 2010 desperately tried to get the industry to back MeeGo as the "Unified Operating Environment" so that they could attract mobile device developers to write apps for Intel devices as well as iOS. It failed miserably. Then they switched to promoting all things HTML 5 last year in a new attempt to crack the market. So it's understandable that Intel was so pleased to have the opportunity to announce last week in a series of slides that Android now rules the world. Finally they could use this development to push Android and Chrome on new Ultrabooks later this year. Finally their day would come to stomp on Apple. But that's a story for another day.
For now, I believe that Intel has the right product to bring some zest back to the PC. I'm one of the greatest fans of this new device segment ever since I covered an Apple patent showing their initial interest in this form factor all the way back to 2008 before Intel ever started banging their 2-in-1 Ultrabook drum. And for the record, Apple has recently revisited their visions for such a 2-in-1 design.
Time will tell if this new notebook-tablet hybrid is a category that Apple will be late to the party with, but for now Intel is going to ramp up their marketing machine for this new category going forward and with Windows and Android behind it, it's bound to make waves in the mobile space over the coming years whether Apple sees its value or not.
About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.