Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow Requires Developing a Vision of How People Will Interact with Computing Power in 10 to 15 Years

 

BrianDavidJohnson.jpgBrian David Johnson, Intel's Futurist (Flickr photo)

Brian David Johnson is Intel's "futurist," which means his job is to look out 10 to 15 years ahead and develop plans that Intel engineers can use to create technology for, well, the future. His job is a complicated mix of sociology and research, looking deeply into how people interact with computers and computation today to anticipate how it will evolve over time.

 

In a recent interview with Adrenaline, a glossy magazine for software developers published by Intel's Software and Services Group, Johnson talked about his job, his role as a social scientist and the human element of design.

 

How do you go about projecting 10 to 15 years into the future?

 

Brian David Johnson: We start with social science. We have, in our lab, ethnographers and anthropologists who go all over the world to study people and give us insights into human behavior -- how humans communicate with each other, how humans live, how people interact with their governments, how they buy things and what their cars are like. Whatever you can think of, they are looking at it.

 

That gives us a basis -- we have to remember that we are building products for us, for people. From there, I look at the computer science side of things: the people who are doing the innovative hardware and software development that goes on at Intel.

 

Next we ask, "What is possible with technology?" We look back at those human insights and ask, "OK, how do we make people's lives better?"

 

Then I like to look at trends, what I call the math of the future. Most people start with population growth and the projections of where we are going. Although those are important to me, they aren't as important as the first two steps -- social science and computer science -- because, again, we have to understand the people we are building for, and then we have to understand the technology that we are building.

 

In terms of computing, what do you see the future looking like in 20 years?

 

Johnson: I am an incredible optimist for a number of reasons. Everything I do is based upon social science research. Usually when you talk to people about computers, devices and gadgets, they're generally very optimistic. They think it is cool.

 

That is one of the things we can't forget -- for most people, the future is going to be pretty awesome. We can't let ourselves forget that we will be surprised, and we can't discount that when we pick up an Ultrabook for the first time, we'll say, "Wow, that feels really cool." I think when we talk about the future of economies and the future of Intel, we can't forget that in the future that wow is still going to happen -- and that is pretty cool.

 

What is your history in the tech industry?

 

Johnson: My first job was at the computer lab at the local university in Virginia. That was back when every printer room had one printer, and that printer was in a soundproof box. And there was an entire room of Wang word-processing machines and a room full of mainframe terminals. I was there when they carted in the first personal computer. The joke was that it was called a personal computer because you could lift it by yourself.

 

So we have come a long way since then?

 

Johnson: Oh, yeah! I always laugh about the computers that I learned to program on; today, we carry around more computational power in our pockets.

 

How has your work as a futurist informed your view of the industry as a whole?

 

Johnson: Well, it has made me very boring, to be quite honest. I am a very pragmatic futurist. The work I do is for the specifications of processors, so I have to make sure that whatever visions I come up with are really grounded and that we can build them. If I tell Intel that we're all going to have rocket cars and jet packs and come 2020 we don't have rocket cars and jet packs, then this futurist won't have a job.

 

Everything we do is based in social science first and foremost. We are designing processors, platforms and multiple products, and even the software and the algorithms that go into those products from a human standpoint. The futures we are looking at … need to be very accomplishable.

 

What affect do you see smaller screens and portable form factors having on the industry going forward?

 

Johnson: Computation power has spread and found its way into our living rooms and pockets, and is finding its way into our cars, walls and hospitals. For the longest time people asked, "Will the PC kill the TV?" Now you hear them ask, "Will the smartphone kill the laptop?" or "Will the tablet kill the laptop?"

 

One device isn't going to rule them all; it is about whatever device people have handy. People really like choice. People will watch "Inception," a big blockbuster movie, on their big-screen TV at home, but if they happen to be stuck in an airport or on a bus, they will watch it on their smartphone. With that type of power on those small screens, computation fits more elegantly into people's lives.

 

You have a smartphone, a tablet, an Ultrabook, a television -- all these things begin to fit quite nicely together, becoming more about the consumer and the consumer's choice about the kind of screen they would like to interact with.

 

As these high-powered mobile screens become more and more ubiquitous how do you see them affecting daily life?

 

Johnson: They allow us to have access. With a lot of the research that I was doing in the more near-term, looking out to 2015, you have all these different screens and the computational power, input and output, battery life, computation and electricity which allow those screens to become windows that give you access to the people and the entertainment you love. That is what drives most people.

 

All of these mobile form factors and screens really give us a myriad of ways to make that connection in different places, in different areas and in different spaces, and I think that will only continue.

 

Are the differences between platforms becoming less important to the public at large?

 

Johnson: It's not just about processor speed or the type of processor. We have multi-core, many-core and single-chip cluster computers. There are different ways of bringing computational power and coming up with solutions to different problems -- whether you want a tablet or a smartphone that lasts all day or you need a high-performance computer that needs to calculate particle physics for the large hadron collider. These are very different types of computation.

 

Inside Intel, it isn't just about making it smaller, faster and less expensive, although this is important and it's what we will continue to do -- we live in the house of Moore's Law. That is necessary but not sufficient. We have a significant shift where the way that people understand computational power has less to do with the guts and more to do with the experience.

 

 

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In One Minute, Facebook Logs 6 Million Pages Views, Google Handles 2 Million-Plus Search Queries, Twitter Adds More Than 320 Accounts and the Data Deluge Threatens to Overwhelm Network Infrastructure

 

Network infrastructure as a topic lacks the sex appeal of slick mobile devices, cool social and location apps, streaming music or viral videos. Yet without the fast-flow of data a robust network infrastructure supports, they all come to a grinding halt. We've looked before at the strain our collective appetite for mobile devices and video places on networks (Tech Companies Tackle Wireless Traffic Jam). This infographic demonstrates the enormity of the need for network capacity beyond just mobile and video uses and forecasts a future that assures that network providers will be scrambling to keep pace.

 

InternetMinuteInfographic.jpgSource: Intel (Flickr image)

Right now, almost 640 Terabytes of data move across global IP networks in a single minute. Smartphone and social networking application usage comprise much of that data tidal wave.

 

In one minute...

 

 

Today's data volume challenges network providers to keep pace with an insatiable hunger for bandwidth, yet the future promises to make the demand more acute. The number of networked devices now approximately equals the global population, but by 2015 it's projected to double. Just 3 years from now, it will take 5 years to view all the video crossing IP networks in one second.

 

 

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PC Case Modder Takes Computer Design Beyond the Dull Gray Box

 

6882455065_5f3726a25e_b.jpgJeffrey Stephenson surrounded by several of his computer designs. He is a fan of the Mid-Century Modern designs depicted in the AMC television series "Mad Men" -- he is working on a project to tie into the season premiere of the cable series. (Flickr photo)

By day, Jeffrey Stephenson works as an information technology professional, but in his free time, he's better known as "slipperyskip." That's his Twitter handle and the name he uses on computer hardware forums where he posts about how he transforms retro furniture and antique appliances -- he once turned an Elvis microphone into a fully functioning PC. His handcrafted designs have made him a celebrity in many computer hardware circles and a living legend among PC modders.

 

"Sometimes an idea hits me that I just can't shake," he said. "It starts to dominate my every thought until the only way to get rid of it is to act on it. The Shure 55 microphone is an example. The idea of using it in a computer design ran in the back of my head for nearly a year. One day it all clicked and I just started building what became the Unidyne PC."

 

He believes that most people like their technology to look like technology. But that's not his audience. "I speak to those who like to express their style in everything they come in contact with," he said.

 

Stephenson built his first homemade PC when he was a teenager. "It was a Digicomp mechanical 3-bit computer, an educational toy designed to teach about binary numbers," said Stephenson.

 

Since then he's created 30 unique computers, each a masterpiece blending modern technology and design styles ranging from Art Deco to Mission to Mid-Century Modern. He has never sold any of them, but he did enter his Decomatic living room entertainment PC in the 2007 Intel PC Design Challenge. One of his biggest joys is when his wife uses his creations to decorate their Live Oak, Florida area home.

 

"My wife says the Mid Century Madness and G-metric Nano are a couple of her 'techno-integration' favorites," said Stephenson.

 

Unlike computer chips produced by huge teams and fleets of robots in a fab, Stephenson works alone using little more than a Dremel rotary tool and a cordless drill. "I do most of my work from my burgundy leather Laz-E-Boy recliner," he said. "On a nice day I'll work at a table on my deck."

 

He designs and builds two to three new pieces a year. Each new project relies on equipment donated by companies such as VIA, which provided mini-ITX motherboards, and Microsoft, which shared a pre-beta version of Windows 8 to run on Stephenson's most recent design. "Projects can take from 100 to 300 hours to finish," he said.

 

Stephenson bought one of the first mini-ITX form factor motherboards by VIA Technologies in 2003. He liked the idea of having a small, high performing computer. He had trouble finding a case that wasn't expensive or boring. "Then I stumbled across a site that sold wooden desktop cigar humidors, which had perfect dimensions and a stylish exterior," he said.

 

6882454635_154cea38fc_b.jpgStephenson discovered a 1938 Breakfaster made by Calkins Appliance Co. on eBay. It had no controls, just a power plug. The size, shape and simplistic design inspired him to transform the antique toaster into a machine-age PC powered by an Intel Pentium M processor that he named DECOmputer. (Flickr photo)

At the time, Tim Handley, CPU platforms marketing manager at VIA Technologies, was looking for designers who could build PCs in interesting cases that would show how Mini-ITX boards were suitable for small form factor PCs.

 

"Jeffery approached us with an idea to build a PC in a cigar humidor," said Handley in an interview for this story. "We were so impressed with the workmanship and attention to detail that we invited him to our CES event, where his humidor PC got a lot of media coverage."

 

The wireless router-equipped Humidor CL Server ended up on CBS-TV and in Popular Science magazine. Handley began donating components and even inviting Stephenson to attend industry events.

 

"Many of the comments from top management professionals about how good a humidor PC would look on their desk made us consider new product categories and market segments for our Mini-ITX products, which were initially targeted for industrial PCs more than office PCs," said Handley.

 

For many computer hardware geeks, he is considered the godfather of Mini-ITX modding, according to Sascha Pallenberg, a long-time computer hardware reviewer and founder of Netbooknew.com.

 

"Jeffrey is a true inspiration for the global modding and design community," said Pallenberg. "He is such a humble guy, but his designs have been the best for the last decade, and it seems that he will never run out of ideas."

 

Art Deco to Mid-Century Modern

 

"Art Deco is in my DNA," said Stephenson, who lived in San Francisco in the '60s and New York in the '70s. "It inspires me and I want to be surrounded by it."

 

Occasionally he experiments with other styles beyond Art Deco. He once transformed a 1936 antique toaster into DECOmputer, a machine age PC. Another time, after seeing a 1964 Danish desk on eBay, he took to building Mid-Century Modern. Design site Core 77 dubbed it "Don Draper's PC," referring to the lead character of the AMC TV series "Mad Men," which prominently features Mid-Century Modern design.

 

His compact design called Level Eleven uses a solid-state drive, which is compact and quiet as it has no moving parts. "The improved energy efficiency of each new CPU generation helps me to pack more and more computer power into smaller and smaller packages," he said. "This also allows me to concentrate more on a design's style instead of hiding massive air ducts involved in moving quantities of air."

 

Stephenson says he has learned to call a project complete and walk away from it, although at times he's had to cannibalize equipment from an old design to finish a new project.

 

"I still have every computer I have ever built," he said. "I have every component ever given to me by equipment sponsors."

 

Handley, now at GIGABYTE Technology, says that Stephenson has made a significant impact on the computer industry.

 

"He showed the world that a PC can be a statement about oneself in the same way that a haircut or fashion accessory can be," said Handley. "His designs showed the world that with low-power components you are free to explore more design options than with standard desktop PC parts."

 

 

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Improved Living Standards, Computer Literacy and Internet Access Combined with a Significant Drop in Prices, Are Making PCs Attractive and Accessible to More People

 

RussiaComputerStore.jpgLaptop and Ultrabook computers in Moscow retail store. The cost of buying a PC has dropped dramatically: in 1995, the worldwide price for an average priced notebook PC was equal to 47.7 workweeks. By 2010, the price had declined to 5 workweeks.. (Flickr photo)

A rapid rebound from the 2008 global economic crisis, distribution of wealth across a growing middle class and more affordable prices are driving Russia to become the biggest PC market in Europe.

 

Russia will become the fourth-largest PC market in the world in 2012, according to IDC research director Stefania Lorenz.This means that for the first time more PCs will be sold in Russia than in Germany, Europe's decades-long epicenter of PC demand.

 

"Certainly Russia is a driving force in PC growth in Europe, and consumers are driving the growing volume of sales," Lorenz said in an interview for this story. "Between the first quarter of 2010 and the third quarter of 2011, consumer notebook sales in Russia grew from a staggering 241 percent [growing from a relatively small base of 273K units first quarter 2009 to 932K units first quarter 2010] to 21 percent in third quarter of 2011," she said. "And if you look at just the third quarter of 2011, of the 2.6 million PC units sold, 2.2 million of those were sold to consumers."

 

Improved living standards, computer literacy and Internet access across Russia, combined with a significant drop in prices, are making PCs attractive and accessible to more people, according to Lorenz.

 

"Russian consumers are spending more time each month on social networks, more than anyone in the world," Dmitri Konash, Intel's general manager of Russia, said in an interview for this story.

 

"Technology has also become legitimate business in Russia," said Lorenz, referring to the shift away from the black market toward buying computers at large national retail chains and small stores. "The notebook market is nearly 100 percent legal now, although a few years ago 50 percent of laptops were imported into the country illegally," she said.

 

While developed countries in Western Europe and the United States are experiencing slight PC sales slumps, several emerging markets are growing and changing the PC marketplace. Russia dominates PC sales in a market region that includes Turkey, the Middle East and Africa, and the Russian economy "is more unified than Western Europe as a whole," said Loren Loverde, vice president of IDC research in an interview for this story.

 

IDC expects to see PC sales in Russia climb from 12.3 million units shipped in 2011 to 13.5 units in 2012. Konash, however, believes it's possible for Russia to ship 16 million PCs in 2012. "That would mean 20 percent growth," he said.

 

"Unless there is a global meltdown, the Russian economy will do fairly well for the next few years."

 

Quick Recovery from Global Crisis, but No More Triple-Digital Growth

 

Years of steady economic growth before and after the banking crisis of 2008, together with a growing middle class, have helped stabilize the Russian economy, according to Konash.

RussiaPCShipments.jpgSource: IDC 2011 (Flickr photo)

"When the economy tanked and global demand for oil dropped, we saw a 50 percent contraction of PC shipments during the second half of 2008, but the recovery was like a hockey stick," said Konash, describing how the recovery looked plotted on a graph.

 

Prior to the 2008 crisis, Russia experienced 9 consecutive years of growth, averaging 7 percent annually between 2000 and 2008. According to Lorenz, PC sales in the country grew steadily during that time. "By Q3 2008, PC sales growth was above 100 percent, but when Europe began suffering from the 2008 crisis, Russia suffered, too," she said. "Between the fourth quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2009, PC sales dropped by about 50 percent in Russia," she said.

 

"By the fourth quarter of 2009, Russia was out of the crisis, credit was back and vendors were selling new PC models," said Lorenz. "By the third quarter of 2011, consumers were buying, the government started making technology purchases, but the corporate market was still not showing significant uptick compared to years when Russia was experiencing triple-digit growth rates."

 

Easier to Get a PC

 

"The Russian population is very educated and incomes have been going up significantly for years," said Konash.

 

According to some estimates, Russia's middle class grew nearly sevenfold between 2000 and 2006, and average monthly salaries climbed from the equivalent of USD$80 in 2000 to USD$750 by the end of 2010.

 

RussianwithPC.jpgA growing middle class and declining prices is driving demand for PCs in Russia, which will become the fourth largest PC market in the world in 2012. (Flickr photo)

At the same time, the cost of buying a PC has dropped dramatically across the globe. According to data from Intel, the worldwide price for an average-priced notebook PC was equal to 47.7 working weeks in 1995, which dropped to 5 working weeks by 2010.

 

Eastern Europe saw prices drop from 25.7 workweeks in 1995 down to 4.2 in 2010. By 2014, the price of an average notebook PC is estimated to equal 2.2 workworks in Eastern Europe, which will be slightly below the worldwide average of 2.3.

 

"Today many people are walking out of stores with a new laptop and the equivalent of a hundred or so U.S. dollars left in their pocket," said Konash. "That's money they expected to spend but didn't have to. Laptops and smartphones are becoming symbols of productivity and fashion, and this is compelling consumers to consider new or premium products." He said that in late 2011, 20,000 Ultrabook computers shipped to the three main retail networks in Russia sold out after two weeks.

 

Technology Spreading Across Russia

 

Tech companies from Taiwan are playing a big role in the diffusion of PCs across Russia, according to Lorenz. "Companies such as Acer and Asus can ship their products to China and through Mongolia to reach Russia," she said. "Acer became very successful between 2006-2007 as they aggressively pushed down prices on their notebooks, and today they have a strong retail presence."

 

While consumers continue to buy new computers through indirect sales channels, or smaller local shops, momentum is shifting toward large retail chain stores such as Eldorado and Media Markt, according to Konash. He said that the top two computer brands, Acer and Asus, account for 50 percent of consumer PC sales, followed by Samsung and HP.

 

Inside Russia there are large concentrations of people living and working in cities, and they adopt technology differently than those in more rural locations, according to Lorenz.

 

"In large cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, one person could own three or more devices, including a work and home PC, mini notebook, smartphone, eReader and possibly a media tablet," she said. "However, in other regions of the country the situation is quite different. We typically see one PC per family in smaller cities and no additional devices."

 

Like many other emerging markets, Russia's large population has adopted consumer technologies later than many developed economies. But in recent years, Brazil, Russia, India and China have been moving up the ranks, leapfrogging long-time PC market leaders such as the United States, Japan and Germany.

 

"It will be China, U.S., Brazil and Russia as the world's top four PC markets by the end of 2012," said Konash. That's a dramatic change since 2010 when the biggest PC markets were the U.S. followed by China, Germany and Japan.

 

 

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NASA's High-Res 'Blue Marble' Image is Sharpest Ever

 

U.S. space agency NASA has released the highest-resolution images ever taken of Earth, capturing in a single view everything from vast deserts to swirling weather systems to polar icecaps.

 

The images, one of East Africa and Asia, and the other of North and Central America, are eye-popping.

Not since 1972, when the Apollo 17 astronauts snapped the first famous "Blue Marble" photo, has an image of Earth from space created such buzz. NASA recently posted the images on the photo-sharing site Flickr, where they've gone viral.

 

Data for the images was beamed down from the mini-van-sized Suomi NPP satellite, which is whipping around the planet in a polar orbit once every 102 minutes at an altitude of 512 miles. That's not tree-top level, but for a satellite it's considered low and fast. Telecommunications satellites, typically parked in geostationary orbits, look down from a lofty 22,236 miles. The Apollo shot was snagged from 28,000 miles away.

 

BlueMarbleInside1000.jpg

 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Norman Kuring, who created the images, said that he did his data crunching on a custom-built 64-bit Linux desktop system powered by an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU. "It's just a grey box by my desk," he said.

 

Kuring says his Intel-based machine began chewing through the tens of gigabytes of raw satellite data for each image when he went home to eat dinner. About 4 hours later the job was done.

 

Using GIMP and other open-source image processing software, Kuring used his system to stitch together multiple bands of color and infrared data from satellite images shot during 6 separate Earth orbits. The result is an utterly seamless mosaic of Earth, floating in the black void of space.

 

Gaze down at the Nile, snaking north toward the Mediterranean, the green jungles belting equatorial Africa, the Indian subcontinent with Sri Lanka, swaddled in clouds off its southern tip. That image was taken less than 3 weeks ago.

 

NASA officials say more images may be on the way.

 

The latest NASA "Blue Marble" images have struck a deep chord with earth inhabitants everywhere. The Americas image has now been viewed 3.5 million times, a new record for a single shot on Flickr.

 

Officials at NASA have been flooded with press inquiries. As Kuring told Wired, "My guess is that people know that this is the only place we have to live. When they see an image showing these beautiful blues and greens, it speaks to them. This is our home."

 

 

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IFP Contributor

What's an Ultrabook?

Posted by IFP Contributor Feb 6, 2012

The Sleek Laptops are Now Reaching Store Shelves, but What do Retailers and Consumers Know About Them?

 

ultrabookretail.JPGUltrabooks from Samsung, Asus, Toshiba and other OEMs are now on store shelves. (Flickr photo)

In the wake of the on-going buzz around Ultrabooks, we went looking for the new category of laptop computers in the Sacramento, Calif. area. Visiting retail stores where computers are sold, we asked sales associates to show what they had to offer. Despite all the news and attention Ultrabooks got at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show, we found mixed results in terms of knowledge and awareness:

 

"Ultrabook. That's a new term for me," said Westin at the Staples in Citrus Heights. "I don't think we have any. [They didn't.] If you want a whiz-bang-fizz laptop I'd go with this HP Pavilion dv7."

 

Standing in front of an end-cap display featuring the Samsung Series 9, Asus Zenbook and Toshiba Portege Z835, Scott at the Best Buy in Folsom said, "I really like these. Intel has guidelines that have to be met for an Ultrabook to be an Ultrabook. Ultrabooks have mobility, speed and turn on in about 18 seconds."

 

"We have these," said Jon, pointing out five Ultrabook systems at the Fry's Electronics in Roseville. "If you want mobility and power, the Ultrabook is the way to go," he said before walking through features of the Acer Aspire S3, Asus Zenbook, HP Folio 13, Lenovo Ideapad U300s and Sony Vaio Z series.

 

Office Max in Natomas had no Ultrabooks among six notebooks on display, but Claudia, who admitted she didn't know what Ultrabooks were, offered to look on the online catalog and found one, the Toshiba Portege Z835. "I checked availability and there's not one available anywhere," she said.

 

Staples in Roseville had one Ultrabook in the store, the Acer Aspire S3, and Ernest was limited to citing only what was written on the manufacturer's display.

 

Also with a single Ultrabook was Office Depot in Foothill Farms. Brandon said about the Asus Zenbook UX31E on display, "It's small, great for gaming."

 

Haylee at the Staples in Folsom said she had never heard of "Ultrabook." The store had zero Ultrabooks on display.

 

"Ultrabooks, yes," said Nicholas at the Fry's Electronics in Sacramento. "We have these four from Toshiba, Acer, Asus and HP. You'll find that they're lighter, have better battery life and I really like that they have solid-state drives." The store carried three of the same models -- Acer Aspire S3, Asus Zenbook and HP Folio 13 -- as its sister store in Roseville, didn't have the Sony Vaio Z series, but did have the Toshiba Portege on display.

 

To be fair, Intel's Ultrabook definition may not be widely known as the first systems went to market in the October-November timeframe, with more expected later this year. For the record, an Ultrabook is defined as a security-enabled mobile device with a thin and light design that's less than 21 millimeters thick with ultra-fast startup and extended battery life of 5 to 8 hours.

 

ultrabookheld.JPGUltrabooks must be less than 21mm thick and have extended battery life of 5 to 8 hours. (Flickr photo)

Intel acknowledges that widespread awareness of the Ultrabook among retailers at this early stage may not be strong.

 

"It will probably be hit-and-miss at retailers until [Ultrabooks] start to get critical mass on shelves," said Brian Fravel, the director of brand strategy at Intel.

 

Sales associates where Ultrabooks are presently sold should know the basic selling points, according to Jeffrey Maguire, CEO of Pulse LTD, an Ohio-based consulting firm that works with such clients as Best Buy and Intel to help drive consumer experiences through the retail workforce.

 

For Best Buy's part, the company has been priming its associates since fall, according to Charlie Feidt, category sales manager for Best Buy.

 

"We started providing information about this new category and its benefits to customers well before Ultrabooks went on sale in-store," he said. "We've teased it through our internal news channels since November and provided extensive online training. We've had a couple of live national conference calls with field leaders and store employees."

 

As for a computer salesperson who still regards "Ultrabook" as a foreign word, Feidt had this to say:

 

"I would be disappointed if a sales associate at a store carrying laptops wasn't at least familiar with the term 'Ultrabook'," he said. "That name has been sort of branded over the past few months so they should at least know it's in the thin-and-light category. Just based on all the reports out of CES they should have heard of it."

 

And what about consumers? What level of brand recognition should they have several months after Ultrabooks debuted in the marketplace? Intel's Fravel said he wouldn't expect more than half of "average people on the street" to have heard of Ultrabooks within the first year of the category's availability.

 

That may change starting this spring when Intel is scheduled to launch an aggressive marketing campaign for Ultrabooks. At present, Fravel's forecast is in line with the results of a random survey of Sacramento, Calif. area shoppers, albeit taken after only a few months of the new laptop category arriving in retail. Less than a quarter of those asked had heard of Ultrabook.

 

Consumer awareness is expected to rise as more shelf space is given to Ultrabooks.

 

"With Christmas inventory just about out, we should see more Ultrabooks in retail in the coming months, which will mean RSPs [retail salespeople] will need to be more up to speed," Fravel said.

 

The marketing campaign Intel will launch in April, called "A New Era of Computing," may help get customers interested in Ultrabooks in the first place.

 

"There definitely will be a lot of media in Q2 through Q4," Fravel said, "so if people look for Ultrabook they'll see it."

 

The TV, print and outdoor ads and online and in-store retail components work both ways, according to Maguire of Pulse.

 

"Obviously, retail associates are also consumers and come into contact with the totality of the marketing push," he said. "I would expect a very high level of awareness in the associate population, which will translate directly to shoppers on retail sales floors."

 

 

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