San Francisco—The first U.S. consumer version of a new class of “Internet portables” promoted by Intel, called Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) will ship this October from Clarion.
MIDs may be seen as iPhone competitors in that they are designed to offer easy, full PC-like access to the Internet in a small, reasonably priced device.
Director of Intel’s MID program, Pankaj Kedia said MIDs are portables that “let you take the Internet you and I know and love with you wherever you go,” noting that pictures and true Internet formatting appears on the MID screen for all 5 billion Internet pages. The devices are powered by a new Intel Atom processor and Intel has 30 designs from which suppliers may choose.
Kedia says the devices will be able to deliver VoIP, blogging, email, IM and chatting, and fully support social networking which now represents 25 percent of Internet usage, up from 7 percent only 18 months ago.
Clarion’s device will connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when paired with a mobile phone and will offer GPS plus a special mode for the car.
BenQ is also expected to offer a consumer-aimed MID to the U.S. but has not announced a ship date, said Intel. A total of 25 brands are expected to offer MIDs this year, but most will be overseas or business-aimed models, some of which were on display last week at the Intel Developers Forum here.
Some MIDs will be phone-centric; others, like the Clarion device will be GPS-centric and still others will highlight other functions, although all are Internet capable.
Intel claims that MIDs will offer a better Internet experience than the iPhone as that device does not support Flash video. YouTube video must be transcoded by YouTube for the iPhone so not all of the videos are available. But analysts including Mike McGuire, Research VP of Media for Gartner, sees this detraction as minor.
Still, analysts say there is plenty of room for MIDs to compete with an iPhone and other advanced smartphones. Van Baker, a Gartner Research VP for consumer electronics notes, “The iPhone is far from infallible and the competition will do Apple and the market good.” He believes MIDs will get off to a slow start through 2009 and “then really begin to ramp up in 2010/2011 to the tens if not hundreds of millions of units.”
Intel expects MIDs to be a 100 million unit market in three to five years worldwide. “What everybody agrees on today is there are 1.5 billion Internet users all on the PC. Just like the cellphone changed voice calling so that instead of calling Amy at home or work, now I call Amy; the same thing will happen to the Internet. It will be delivered to the 1.5 billion users…wherever they are. And so the potential here, over the next five years is significant,” said Kedia.