This past August Intel invested $300M in an Ultrabook fund and if you haven’t had a chance to use these high-end laptops from companies like Asus and Toshiba – you should… They are pretty incredible. Light, thin, efficient and fast. I have finally lost my MacBook Air envy. In fact a trip to Best Buy a few minutes ago got me so revved up about this category I’m looking for new risky things to do with my relatively new laptop to hasten its demise. Blogging in the shower maybe? Well if Alan Greenspan can write a book in the bathtub, why not?
More recently the company announced a new $100M Intel Capital AppUp Fund which will target development in areas that include the HTML5 programming language and other software tools, smartphones, netbooks and other mobile technologies, TVs and cars. According to the company:
The new fund will invest in companies producing infrastructure, middleware, innovative applications and digital content across the continuum of connected devices in application developer-centric equity deals all over the world. The fund is built to advance computing innovations based on Intel architecture in key areas such as digital media consumption, context-aware computing and infrastructure applications.
It would seem Intel is optimistic and this isn’t something unusual in the world of tech these days. In fact, the last 6-7 weeks here at TMC have been filled with very strong customer sales and optimism. Sure there have been some earnings disappointments from the likes of Oracle and a few others but in general, I have begun to see almost two months of consistent optimism as evidenced by long-term contracts for branding, lead generation, events, webinars, online communities, advertising and other products.
And this optimism seems to be shared among all the companies we work with from carriers to service and hardware companies. Conferees at our upcoming ITEXPO and collocated events are also signing up at a record rate and selling out hotel room block after block.
Since the Lehman collapse, I haven’t seen this many weeks of consistent “optimism” among my sales team and the industry as a whole. I would describe the past few years as stutter-steps – where things seem to get better then something happens – perhaps in Europe to shake confidence.
The idea of being cautiously optimistic makes sense because we have learned this past decade that euphoria can turn instantly to pessimism due to terrorism and bubbles bursting.
But hopefully this caution will be good for the markets as it won’t let the optimists bid share prices and valuations up too quickly.
And to add more balance – let’s not forget that at the end of this year we will see the section 179 deadline meaning companies will no longer enjoy accelerated depreciation schedules for things like hardware and software and other goods and services.
In other words just like Cash for Clunkers encouraged people to purchase new cars a few months or quarters early, this change in the tax code will encourage companies to spend any money scheduled for next year by December of this year.
So if we see declines in business spending in Q1 of 2012 we may want to keep this in perspective.
But getting back to Intel – I agree with all the areas above in terms of being growing spaces. Of course I would add cloud, M2M, Super WiFi and a few others but they are on the right track. I am not so sure however about netbooks. My money is on ultrabooks and as their prices come down they will likely wipe out the netbook category in a very Moore’s Law-like 18 months or so.
You know my views on HTML5 – TMC and Crossfire Media launched DevCon5 the first conference in the world on HTML5 and related development and to date these events have been standing room only – doing extremely well.
One other area of note is cars… Automotive tech has gotten very interesting with low power bluetooth known as Bluetooth Smart Ready and numerous apps from manufacturers allowing you to check things like your gas gauge from any mobile device. Moreover, apps like Trapster continue to amaze by alerting drivers to police speed traps, road hazards and allowing you to form a convoy where you can track other cars which are supposed to follow (or be followed by) you. There is now even EV charging station information which has been added to allow the electric-car drivers to always know where the closest charging station is.
Is there more room to go with car tech? Absolutely. I think the phone should be able to control most every car function – especially radios on high-end German cars which have generally all been designed by sadists. Moreover although I have seen somewhat functional Facebook-connecting speech technology on a BMW X5– there seems to be much more room to go in terms of connecting drivers to the rest of the world in as safe a way as possible.
Again, I am in sync with Intel and am cautiously optimistic about the future of tech – and if we can avoid any major shocks to the system we may even have some really good growth over the next 24 months.