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Intel sees new processors, differentiated desktops and SMB opportunity

Intel used its partner conference to outline a product refresh, new SMB focus, and opportunity to conquer the enterprise

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is refreshing its product line across the board, launching a new push into the SMB market and preparing for a new enterprise PC refresh cycle as it evolves its partner program to meet shifting market dynamics.

Those were among the messages that were delivered to Intel’s premier partners at the vendor’s recent partner conference in Las Vegas. In a media conference call following the event, Eric Thompson, director, North America distribution sales and channel marketing for Intel, said Intel has launched new and refreshed offerings across its product line to prepare partners for new opportunities in 2010

“We’re seeing a fair bit of evolution happening in the industry, and we need to reform our partner program to address that,” said Thompson.

One of the changes Intel is seeing is more small form factor products that are being integrated further upstream in the channel, at the original device manufacturer (ODM) level. Thompson said Intel wants to help its partners establish closer relationships with the Chinese and Taiwanese ODMs, and invited a number of the ODMs to meet with partners at the recent conference.

Intel also sees more partner-to partner collaboration happening.

“The model is changing,” said Thompson. “More partners are partnering with other partners rather than build whole solutions themselves, and we’re encouraging that.”

Intel is also looking to expand its partner base in the SMB market, and Thompson said this will be a strong focus for Intel in the coming years.

“We believe 2010 is going to see fantastic growth,” said Thompson. “It will be a year of substantial transition. We have new products across our family, augmented with new areas of growth like SMBs, and the channel is positioned for a comeback of the corporate PC market, with lots of delayed refresh.”

Among the new products is the recently announced Intel Xeon 5600 platform, formerly known as Westmere. It’s touted as 40 per cent more efficient than its predecessor, launched last year, as also boasts a 60 per cent performance improvement. The CPU is compatible with the last generation platform for easier upgrades, and pricing has been lowered on many configurations by 10 to 15 per cent, said Thompson.

Thompson touted Intel ESAA, a program of over 700 certified ISV solutions available to partners leveraging technology from vendors such as Citrix (NASDAQ: CTXS), Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC)and VMware (NYSE: VMW). He also pointed to Intel’s expanding offerings in solid state drives, a category that doubled for Intel in the channel in 2009, as well as RAID and networking cards.

“These are ways for customers to augment their solution selling, using validated building blocks,” said Thompson.

In the device space, Thompson said Intel sees the channel moving to differentiated desktops in four broad categories. The business market is still generating growth and partner opportunity, and Thompson said partners are differentiating around value-add such as security, TCO for fixed location usages, and multiple displays. The performance space is seeing lots of channel-driven innovation, particularly around gaming and leveraging Intel’s Core i7 980x Extreme edition. The lifestyle and single form factor space is new and growing rapidly. And finally, Intel Atom-based nettops or ultra small form factor devices are a growing market where Intel sees strong potential.

Finally, Intel also recently launched its Spring Peak line of custom build notebooks with docking stations, giving the channel a white label notebook offering to bring to market.