Intel Canada GM’s roller coaster ride

Having been with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) for the past 25 years, Doug Cooper, the country manager for Canada, said his time at work and in the industry has been quite the roller coaster ride.

During his tenure with Intel, Cooper has witnessed various computer trends and adoption rates over the years and says Intel’s biggest challenge now in 2008 and beyond, is to educate consumers that it’s really what’s inside of a computer that counts.

Now that Intel has launched its Centrino 2 and Centrino 2 with vPro technology chipset platform for notebooks, Cooper said end-users should expect better performance, battery life, and more mobility capabilities from the chipsets.

CDN recently had a chance to speak with Cooper about his time with Intel, the new Centrino 2 platform, WiMAX and WiFi plans, channel opportunities and the notebook market.

CDNNow: You’ve been with Intel since 1983. How does it feel to be with the same company all these years?

Doug Cooper: It’s been a roller coaster ride. The great thing about working at Intel is that there are so many things going on and each day and month so everything’s always different. I would say the biggest thing for us at Intel has been in making the transition to a world where Intel inside is the primary driver for purchasing. Notebooks have become less expensive and the biggest challenge for us now is to make it clear to consumers that not all notebook platforms are the same. It’s about establishing and educating that it’s what’s inside the notebook that’s important.

CDNNow: What are your plans and goals for Canada for the rest of this year and in 2009?

D.C.: Taking full advantage of the shift to mobility. We want to continue to lead the pack on mobility with performance, design, and battery life. Also, we’re talking about mobility on the wireless side. For the first time, we’re unveiling WiMAX that will be a standard feature in the 2009 timeframe. The Centrino 2 platform is really important for mobility.

CDNNow: What are your plans for Canada regarding the Centrino 2 and Centrino 2 with vPro technology platform?

D.C.: The opportunity for us now is that we’re a country where small businesses are such a large percentage of the makeup in Canada. Managed services is also a big area where we provide all of the technical capabilities to allow small businesses to have someone else manage their platforms for them. A small business can make a call out to their reseller with Centrino 2 to have their system managed for them. That’s a tremendous revenue opportunity for the channel.

CDNNow: Are you at all worried that the launch of Centrino 2, which was scheduled for June but came out in July will hurt back-to-school notebook sales, and why?

D.C.: I would say we have to be honest in that there probably won’t be as many people selling the solution during the back-to-school season. Some partners may be able to bring it sooner to market than others. In the meantime, we have some pretty astounding solutions with the past Centrino platform. I think we’ll be covered from a variety of selection for back-to-school computers for sure.

CDNNow: AMD announced its next generation Puma notebook platform last month promising users great visual and energy efficient performance. How does Intel’s new chipset platform compare to AMD’s where notebooks are concerned?

D.C.: When you ask consumers, most say they want good graphics. But really they’re talking about watching a high definition movie or watching videos and looking at pictures. We have a great solution for that with integrated graphics in our chipset and it does that in an energy efficient way with great battery life. We believe there are areas in the high-end gaming market where you may want a discrete graphic solution as well. We give consumers that choice. Centrino 2 will also eventually have a quad core solution within the next 90 days designed for the gamer who also wants to take (the notebook) on the road.

CDNNow: Intel will release two branded mobile motherboards next year in Canada. Can you tell me why these motherboards are important to channel partners?

D.C.: These motherboards are for people who think they have a differentiating advantage to be able to assemble notebooks from components. This isn’t about selling the lowest cost notebook. It’s about selling a business solution that competes with our latest technology and giving end-users solutions.

CDNNow: Later this year Intel will also be introducing a WiMAX/WiFi module. What’s going on with WiMAX and WiFi with Intel?

D.C.: Right now we’re in a number of markets around the world that are at different technical stages with WiMAX and WiFi. There are some technical trials going on in Canada right now. They’re closed and are designed to check out the boundaries and the full capabilities. In the US, there are also other deployments going on in those markets too.

CDNNow: How do you see the WiMAX/WiFi module from Intel impacting Canada and the Canadian channel?

D.C.: Broadband data access is something that’s assumed. The first step we made was in 2003 with hot spots. The next progression was to have a more broadband wireless network that goes nationally. It doesn’t mean hot spots go away; they just become a network in a confined space. Users will be able to get on a bus, or go to a coffee shop and have still have access to the Internet. We think that value proposition is one that will resonate well with business travelers and people in the community. At Intel, we think it’s important to continue our growth in the mobility space to connect anywhere. We’re applying the learnings we’ve made since the initial WiFi deployment to WiMAX to have conversations with carriers and OEMs. We want to make sure it’s painless for consumers once it’s out.

CDNNow: When will the WiMAX/WiFi module become available in Canada and what’s your go-to-market strategy around it?

D.C.: We’re probably talking about 2009 with Canada however the date’s dependent on our technical trials. We’ll be putting forth a marketing effort to talk about the benefits of WiMAX and WiFi for businesses and consumers. WiMAX is a natural evolution and Intel’s goal is to make it part of the platform moving forward. We also want to bring WiMAX to other mobile Internet devices so people can have wireless access.

CDNNow: What do you think is the biggest opportunity for Intel channel partners to tap into now and why?

D.C.: We’ve said it’s important for the channel to embrace mobility. Whether (system builders are) assembling notebooks (themselves) or are reselling them with services, there’s a huge opportunity for them in this space, especially with services. The market is big enough in Canada to support multiple partners. Intel has already done all of the early groundwork with companies that do managed software solutions such as Altiris and Symantec. The ingredients are all there, and that’s a business model that will allow partners to get beyond the thinning margins of hardware. We also see opportunities with hardware-as-a-service (HaaS). We’ve already gone to market with No Panic Computing (NPC) and that’s an opportunity for partners to take advantage of the HaaS model. Our vPro technology is what helps add manageability and security in the notebook. We’d like to see more companies embrace that type of model.

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