From Extreme to Mainstream

This post originally appeared on our China Research blog on 10 October. At every US IDF, the keynote speech on the first day is by our CEO to talk about the vision for technology and its application. This year’s theme, “from extreme to mainstream”, focused on the process of technology adoption from early adopters/tech enthusiasts/extreme users to more mainstream users. WiFi is a typical example of a once extreme technology that is now a basic configuration for nearly every laptop. Current “extreme technologies” including ultra mobility, powerful graphics ability, 3D processing for entertainment software, etc, could be part of a common technology configuration in the near future.

As I listened to the keynote I realized I was sitting next to an extreme user. My neighbor was a journalist who was doing a live-broadcast from his seat. He had a camera on his laptop pointed to the stage, an MP3 recorder at his side, and his fingers were flying across the keyboard. His live updates were made possible by the WiFi broadband access. This journalist was sharing his onsite experience to his readers – live. I believe that in the near future, many people will share their onsite experience with their family and friends, anywhere and anytime. From video to audio, it’s just a click to let others ‘be there’ too.

All the technologies he was using were driven by innovation. At Intel, the group I am in is the central research arm for the company with a focus on the leading edge of technology’s evolution. We work on innovative ideas and look for their practical implementation. When the technology matures enough, we transfer it to the product groups who take it to market. Usually, it is first accepted by a relatively small group of extreme technology fans until it eventually gets into the mainstream.

In the technology development process, for an innovation to become a mainstream technology, the most critical task is to bet correctly on the right direction of its future application. If a technology can not meet the needs of end users, it will disappear quickly from the market.

For a company to make a profit and to grow, it must continually innovate and regularly release new technologies that ultimately become adopted by the mainstream. As a company, Intel continues to innovate every day. Here in the research group, we have the joy of innovation being our job.

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