Intel's Atom chip is at the heart of the netbook revolution, but the company sought to dampen interest in the platform at a recent conference. Stu Pann, vice president of sales and marketing at Intel, said at the Raymond James IT Supple Chain Conference that they were intended for "emerging markets and younger kids" and indicated that Intel was surprised at their success in the west.
"We view the Netbook as mostly incremental to our total available market ... If you've ever used a Netbook and used a 10-inch screen size--it's fine for an hour. It's not something you're going to use day in and day out."
Netbooks are low-profit items that threaten a high-profit ecosystem. Intel doesn't want to swap its Core 2 dollars for Atom pennies. It always imagined these low-power chips as a sideline in devices that supplement, rather than replace, "real" laptops.
In underestimating netbooks' general appeal, however, Intel's seen its Atom become a "good enough" chip for uses it never intended. A year ago, a netbook would have seemed a foolish choice for a main machine – but times have changed. You can even just slap a netbook's guts in an everyday-looking laptop, keep the old price tag, and call it a day.