Updated: 1/6/2004; 11:10:46 PM.
Jeremy Allaire's Radio
An exploration of media, communications and applications over the Internet.

This is a personal weblog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Centrino: Trojan Horse for Future Cell Data Intel's trying to become the life of the Wi-Fi party: My analysis of Intel's Centrino plans appears in today's Seattle Times. My thesis, in a nutshell, is that although putting 802.11b in a modern laptop isn't a stroke of genius, Intel's actual, stated goal (if you listen to them closely) is much clearer: to provide an end-to-end experience for purchasers of Centrino laptops (configuration, troubleshooting, connection) and to have a path for them to offer ever more advanced wireless technology in the same form factor to manufacturers who are already happy with the process. You could see within a year or 18 months a Centrino offering, for instance, Wi-Fi (g or a/g) plus GPRS or a 3G flavor with Intel's branding on the service. You might be buying Intel Centrino Service by Cingular or T-Mobile Centrino for Intel or whatever the combination of brands is. But it would be a single brand promise and an end-to-end promise, too. Right now, there's a lot of finger pointing when you buy and try to configure a Wi-Fi adapter. Most of the time, it works. When it doesn't, who do you complain to or even get tech support from? When Linksys and Orinoco cards I purchased didn't work in a Sony laptop, I sent email to five different companies and received 15 to 20 suggestions. Fortunately, the last of these, which trickled in, had the solution (Wireless Zero Configuration was turned off). In the same circumstance, if I had a Centrino laptop, I could call the laptop maker, and if I wasn't happy with their help, Intel has a staffed Centrino support line I could call. Both tech support operations are supporting the entire chain. I'm not going to get (I hope) a cock and bull story about it being Microsoft's fault, the driver's fault, the hardware's fault. Let's take one alternative, too: Dell is offering Broadcom's g and a/g solutions under its own TrueMobile name. The g card is a zero-cost sidegrade from a Centrino system to an identical Pentium-M/855 system. If something goes wrong with this combination, I'm entirely reliant on Dell. (Dell is selling a/g and g into the enterprise mostly. If you're planning to upgrade your WLAN to g later in the year, buying a Centrino now might be foolhardy -- and I'm guessing a lot of companies who have thoughts of g or a/g are holding off on...

Good analysis on Intel's long-term ambitions.  The likely collision of WiFi+2/3G cellular with multimedia communications will become a great place for hardware, software and service platform brands to establish themselves.  Nokia's doing it in their universe.  Intel would love to broaden out beyond their current role as hardware supplier up to a higher-level brand and offer for consumers, and mobile appears to be a big play in that direction.


5:31:22 PM    comment []

Look what Don Norman hath wrought! Information appliances!

Philips iPronto Does It with Linux [Slashdot]

In addition to providing a traditional infrared interface, the iPronto also implements Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless connectivity and even an Ethernet port for LAN or broadband Internet access. There's also a USB port as well as an MMC/SD card slot for connecting to other devices (digital cameras?) and numerous other expansion and upgrade purposes.

The iPronto's "customizable" graphical user interface consists of a "high-resolution" 6.4-inch touchscreen LCD, along with a group of stylish control buttons. The device also has a built-in microphone and stereo speakers which Philips says will allow users to listen to MP3s streamed from the Internet (and, presumably, from other home systems via some sort of home network), and which may some day enable futuristic uses such as voice recognition and IP telephony. [LinuxDevices]

$1,700 seems like a bit much for this device, but if this is what the Linux desktop looks like - then cool!  Where's the hard drive - why shouldn't this be a Wifi server as well?


I'm a user of the prior release of the Pronto, and I have to say it's a nice device.  Having the Internet-connected version doesn't seem to add much.  The folks who'd use this device already have a WiFi enabled laptop, so they're not going to use it for accessing Internet services.  And while it can theoretically talk to other home platforms, virtually none of the mainstream consumer electronics speak any standard protocols or let alone IP.  Even mega-automation companies like Crestron (high-end consumer and corporate a/v automation) advertise an "open platform" based on IP and Ethernet, but when pressed the sales folks couldn't point to any other platforms (lighting, security, a/v gear) that did too.

5:10:34 PM    comment []

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