Intel pushes system builders towards ‘whitebook’ market

BANFF, Alta. — System builders have lost more white box business to notebooks than to tier one PC manufacturers who sell direct, according to a senior Intel executive.

Speaking at the System Builder Breakaway this week, director of Intel

channels and distribution Steve Dallman said Intel wants to change that trend with its Centrino line of chips. The company has also partnered with OEM design manufacturers Asus, Aopen, and FIC to help white box builders to start delivering white box notebooks, or whitebooks.

These companies will provide system builders with whitebook spindles. The system builder will add the CPU, memory and DVD or CD drive.

“”Intel understands this market will not happen overnight,”” Dallman said, adding that the chipmaker wants to create a whitebook ecosystem made up of distributors, OEMs and VARs by April.

Dallman predicts that within a year the whitebook market will become viable. Gary Sohal, president of Hamilton, Ont-based system builder Audcomp Computer Systems, isn’t so sure.

“”(Whitebooks) are too new. No one can build a whitebook that is priced lower than a clone PC. That is why it has not taken off,”” Sohal said.

Audcomp has dabbled with whitebooks in the past with Asus and Daiwa, but Sohal said the price was only $200 less than tier one notebooks. He said that was not enough of a delta for businesses to take a chance with whitebooks.

Sohal said he does see some potential for whitebooks in the consumer market. “”Home PCs that do mundane tasks today will be passed down to the kids, while the parents will use a whitebook because people want to be outside computing with wireless,”” he said.

Dallman said the Canadian commercial notebook market grew 17 per cent, while the consumer market grew 21 per cent. “”All in a bad year,”” he said. Dallman believes notebook growth will continue because of wireless technology.

According to Intel, 50 per cent of the installed base in is older than three years. Last year that percentage was at 33 per cent.

“”If I say to a client to change 33 per cent of their PCs, they will shoot me,”” he said. “”But if you have 30 machines you can upgrade 15 to 20 per cent of them. That is only five or six machines and then they can take the most productive people ‘s machines and ship those machines down (to none power users),”” he said.

Dallman also said that 250 million PC still run Windows 95/8 and use lower than 500 MHz system. Windows 95 is no longer support and Microsoft has said that they will no longer support Windows 98 in 2004.

These will all be reasons to upgrade, Dallman said. Intel has unveiled an educational program called Ignite to help the channel understand Windows obsolesce and the security (virus) issues that can arise.


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