Shelly Esque, VP of Legal and Corporate Affairs and President of the Intel Foundation, spoke on Intels Third World education initiatives. This was a very touching presentation that showcased that rather than just pitching product they were changing the lives and potential futures of kids that otherwise would live in near slavery.
What stuck with me was that in parts of Asia women are not expected to finish school but to be married by very young age, often to someone much older, and live the life of housekeeper and baby maker. Through Intels efforts many of these women are now able to avoid this fate and instead complete their education and become relatively independent and strive for a more meaningful and potentially much happier future. Few companies do this and you could see the passion for this effort in Shelly and the pride in the eyes of the Intel employees in the room watching the presentation.
Mooly Eden, VP of the PC Client Group, is one of my favorite people to watch at Intel. Much of what he presented was locked under NDA but his job was to contrast where Intel is today against where it will be tomorrow from the aspect of the PC products we touch.
The guy has more passion in his little finger than most of the executives Ive met over the years have in their entire body and it shows. He is on a short list of folks who could likely do the Steve Jobs sales thing if he ever wanted to apply himself to that kind of role. His presentation rebutting the belief that Intel is not competitive with graphics was brilliantly done and I thought very convincing.
The most interesting demonstration was one where you could, real time, take an Avatar-level avatar (game character) and sync it to your facial expressions real time. It was a huge step toward making compelling virtual reality a real thing and opening the door for more realistic massive multiplayer games and Avatar-like movies, but at vastly lower production costs. Mooly is one of Intels diamonds and I dont think the company fully grasps his worth.
Intel came across as competent and confident and clearly remains a company that is at the heart of the US technology market. Intel is doing some really interesting things in terms of energy management for the home though here, where theres also substantial opportunity, they seem to be struggling with the existing ecosystem.
They continue to face risks associated with graphics performance and the wave of ARM devices that are starting to make inroads into areas that represent growth for the company. Their brands are improved but are still inconsistent and confusing with a blend of new, old, and blended brands in similar products.
However, overall, Intel is vastly improved from where they were last year and they are also reflecting overall improved economic conditions for technology and a warming market overall. While I cant talk about future products, I can say that the roadmaps were compelling and appeared achievable, with their potential to penetrate new markets like the new tablets and Smartphones were believable.
I am particularly looking forward to the emergence of the real time avatars that Mooly showcased which could, when the concept gets out of the lab, make high performance PCs much more popular.
If Intel is a bellwether, and I believe they are, 2010/11 is looking to be time of improvement for the Tech industry and the potential beginning of a new technology surge.