Intel Confirms Upcoming $200 Android Notebooks
Intel executive vice president and chief product officer Dadi Pelmutter has confirmed with CNET that $200 devices using the company's "Bay Trail" Atom SoCs will mostly consist of notebooks based on Google's Android platform, not Windows 8. Solutions with the same price point and Microsoft's latest Windows release will actually depend on Microsoft itself.
"We have a good technology that enables a very cost-effective price point," Perlmutter said. "[The price of Windows 8 laptops] depends on how Microsoft prices Windows 8. It may be a slightly higher price point."
Naturally OEMs may favor Android because it's an open-source platform and Google does not charge a licensing fee. Microsoft, on the other hand, is supposedly reducing its licensing fee in response to the lackluster demand for Windows 8 products. Sources claimed in March that the Redmond company has offered a Windows 8 and Office bundle for some touch-screen systems at a cost of $30, instead of $120.
What type of form factors these low-priced Atom-based Android "notebooks" will arrive in is unknown at this point, but there's a good chance they'll be sold as tablets with optional keyboard covers and docks. The more costly "hybrid" models will likely feature built-in keyboards that allow the devices to transform into a notebook or tablet, depending on the particular need.
Pelmutter also said that devices running Intel's mainstream "Haswell" Core processor could sell as low as $399 to $499. Again, depending on Microsoft, these will either sport Android or Windows 8 Pro – probably the former OS given its lack of a licensing fee. Similar Windows 8 Pro solutions with Core processors may be offered at a slightly higher price point.
The biggest roadblock Microsoft has seemingly faced with Windows 8 thus far has been a lack of sufficient touchscreen solutions. Although touch panel prices are falling, they're not dropping fast enough, thus the number of Windows 8 touch-based non-tablet solutions has been both limited and somewhat pricey. The new Modern UI interface, which mainly relies on touch, and the lack of the familiar Start button/menu has also been a major deterrent.
Due to the declining PC market and a possible apprehension towards upgrading to a redesigned Windows platform, it's not surprising that OEMs may be turning to Android, Chrome OS and even Ubuntu to offer cheaper solutions that don't come with a licensing fee. As a chip maker, it's vital to Intel that Atom and Core-based OEM partners take on these alternate platforms to generate sales where Windows 8 is not.
Perlmutter also told CNET that Intel plans to ship data-only multimode multimode LTE modems by mid-year, and multimode voice over LTE and data modems later in 2013. In 2014, Intel will finally catch up with Qualcomm and Nvidia by offering a SoC with a built-in LTE component. Currently Intel only offers a standalone single-mode LTE chip developed in-house.