Hot on the heels of the official announcement about the forthcoming “Always Connected” Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-based Windows 10 laptops, Intel made its own “Always On” PC announcement.
The oh-so-subtle difference in nomenclature is kind of funny, but Qualcomm probably isn’t laughing. Just as Qualcomm was making a play for a chunk of the Intel-dominated laptop market, led by its mighty X16 gigabit LTE modem, Intel’s announcement amounted to a sucker punch--although we’re not sure the blow landed firmly.
Whereas Qualcomm’s announcement was about a whole new platform upon which OEMs can build, Intel’s was more or less just a reminder of what it’s already been doing, with a sprinkling of me-too branding. Intel wishes to remind you that its chips are also in low-power, portable, fanless form factors, and it also has modem technology that gives those devices always-on LTE connectivity.
Notably, though, the X16 modem promises gigabit (peak) speeds; neither of the modems Intel touted, the XMM 7260 and XMM 7360, approach that. However, Intel said that it’s all-in on the eSIM stuff that Qualcomm had also touted. An Intel blog post read in part, “Intel is investing in eSIM and LTE technologies, and its leaders are working closely with Microsoft to validate eSIM-enabled always connected platforms with multiple carriers using the Intel XMM 7260 modem and the upcoming Intel XMM 7360 modem.”
The follow-up swing that Intel took, though, was when it brought Asus’ Johnny Shih onstage to have him show off his “always connected PC,” which is codenamed “Kukuna.” Asus is one of the OEM partners that pledged to build something on the new Qualcomm platform. The company didn’t have any Snapdragon 835-based mockups to show, but there was Shih, smiling alongside Intel’s Gregory Bryant, holding a shiny 2-in-1 that was equipped with an Intel processor and modem. Wham.
(Meanwhile, Microsoft leans back and enjoys the show. Come on guys, don't fight, there's enough Windows for everyone.)
It was a public but subtle dig towards Qualcomm, and it shows that Intel is gearing up for a competition in this space. And of course, when big companies compete, consumers win. We’ll look forward to Qualcomm’s counterpunch and hopefully a full-on slugfest between the two giants as they push themselves--and each other--to build better devices.