This summer Intel introduced a new category of thin and light laptop computers called ultrabooks. The chip maker wants PC builders to use its latest processors in notebooks that are less than 0.8 inches thick, weigh roughly three pounds or less, and cost less than $1000. There’s just one catch: While Intel thinks it’s possible to build and sell portable computers at that price, PC makers aren’t as sure.
Now Intel is putting its money where its mouth is. The company’s investment division, Intel Capital has created a new $300 million Ultrabook Fund that’s designed to promote innovation in a few new areas including technologies that help build thinner computers, offer better battery life, and improve the user experience.
Intel doesn’t just see ultrabooks as the latest iteration of thin, light, and ultraportable laptops of yesteryear. The company also wants them to incorporate some of the advantages of modern tablet computers (which may have something to do with the fact that today’s tablets are largely dominated by ARM-based chips rather than Intel or AMD processors). That includes all-day battery life, faster boot times, and possibly new forms of input including touch panels or gyroscopic sensors.
The new $300 million fund will invest in companies that are building technologies that will help Intel further its vision of ultrabooks… and I suspect the goal is to bribe PC makers to figure out ways to bring down the costs of 11 to 13 inch laptops with solid state drives, fast (but low power) processors, and long battery life.
That’s because the product category largely depends on Intel and its partners’ ability to actually deliver high quality machines for under $1000. The netbook revolution a few years ago drove down consumers expectations for what a thin and light laptop should cost, and with Apple charging $999 for an entry-level MacBook Air, it could be difficult for HP, Asus, or any other company to compete with an ultrabook at the same price point.