Intel, reeling from the success of its Centrino branding, is preparing a similar strategy for desktop PCs.
The new desktop marketing strategy will include two separate brands, one for the digital home and one for the digital office. Consumers will hear about the benefits of Intel technology for streaming video, wireless media serving, or securing a PC. Corporate customers will be pitched PCs that can be centrally managed and partitioned, in addition to the security features.
The concept has worked well for notebooks. Centrino is a brand that represents three Intel products. Notebook vendors that sell Centrino notebooks are selling systems with the Pentium M processor, the Intel 855 chipset, and an Intel Pro/Wireless chip. Those vendors get additional money from Intel for advertising campaigns where Centrino notebooks and the Centrino logo are featured prominently.
Intel has already talked about what it calls the "platformisation" of the company. Just like Centrino, the desktop version of the campaign will try to develop a platform brand, rather putting the primary focus on the processor itself.
Of course the wireless laptop is an entirely different beast to the well-entrenched PC market. When Centrino launched, huge numbers of people had heard about the new wireless technology but remained confused over where to begin and what components did what. Intel simplified the whole process under a single name and logo. The same simply isn't true with PCs where even the most basic consumer understands the different components that a PC is made from. However, to ever underestimate Intel's marketing nous would be foolish.
The desktop effort won't begin in earnest until mid-to-late 2005, when Intel starts rolling out dual-core processors and the silicon enhancements it calls the "Ts" - abbreviations of code names such as LT, or LaGrande Technology, a hardware-based security feature that will store protected content. Another feature, iAMT, or Intel Active Management Technology, allows IT administrators to manage problematic PCs remotely.
The chipsets for dual-core processors and these silicon enhancements will become available around June next year, when Intel traditionally rolls out new chipset technologies. The company probably won't activate some of those capabilities until software is available later in 2005 or 2006 that can take advantage of the technologies, but the marketing messages will be ready to go at that point.
Like Centrino, each of the desktop brands will be made up of individual parts. The processor and chipset are two obvious components, and Intel could revive its plans for embedded wireless access points into desktop chipsets as a third component. The company will also likely tout the graphics and audio technologies in its chipsets as part of the campaign.
An Intel spokeswoman declined to comment on Intel's future plans for marketing its desktop chips, but said it is not out of the question that Intel would pursue such a Centrino-style strategy, given the success of that campaign, but the company has nothing definitive to say about its plans at this time, she said.
Despite years of focus on next-generation mobile phones, notebook technology, the digital home, and high-end servers, chips for desktop PCs are still a major part of Intel's business.