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Balancing Hype And Help At Intel's Developer Forum

Marketing might was on conspicuous display at the Intel Developer Forum Tuesday, especially so for a new part of the show designed to "bring a dedicated focus to mobile solutions for enterprise IT." While some of Intel's PR dollars brought forth a smattering of relevant information, the balance of the presentations still tipped heavily to hype, promising a mobile-networking nirvana that Intel can't even create for itself yet.

To be sure, Intel earns some praise for its market-evangelizing efforts, especially those that help herd other vendors into more-standard methods of computing. Will Swope, vice president and general manager of Intel's software and solutions group, said the company is spending "multi millions of dollars" pushing its "Mobilized Software Initiative," an effort that includes publishing architecture guides, disseminating developers' tools, and sponsorship of informative Web sites (such as the collaborative effort with CMP Media, Mobilized Software).

Rest assured, Intel is not doing this out of the kindness of its heart: In one of the company's customer case studies (part of an enormous package of marketing material encased on a USB keychain drive that was handed out at Swope's keynote speech Tuesday), Intel heaps praise on a company that replaces its PCs every 30 months. An overall move to mobility -- meaning laptops -- also benefits Intel, since notebook chips offer better margins.

"Mobility is here," Swope said at the end of his talk. "It's real. It's time."

But even Intel itself knows the difference between marketing talk and walking the IT walk. In a separate presentation, a wireless LAN product manager and product engineer talked about Intel's own experiences with WLAN implementation, adding that the company's planned support for data, voice and video over wireless links won't be fully operational for another year or two at the earliest.

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