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Intel pushes Centrino with One Unwired Day

Keith Richards' dream

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Those of you in San Francisco, Chicago and New York may have noticed something peculiar today as Intel kicked off a Centrino celebration called One Unwired Day.

Users in these fine cities are being treated to 24 hours of free wireless access at various locations, including Intel partner sites such as Starbucks and McDonalds. Intel is also hosting some "special events" where consumers can try out Centrino-powered laptops, see demos and win prizes. It's a regular wireless hoedown.

One Unwired Day - something Keith Richards cannot relate to - confirms Intel's aggressive aspirations with its combo mobile/wireless chip technology. The company has backed Centrino with hundreds of millions of dollars and managed to muscle its way in on a market prized by Atheros and others. While Intel remains behind competitors in delivering 802.11a/g kit, it has ties to PC OEMs that competitors can only dream of.

Intel is using its near monopoly in PC processors as a sharp business tool to be sure, but this should not come as a real shocker. This is what massive corporations tend to do.

Still, there are fragile minds out there that don't appreciate Intel's approach. ZDNet's David Berlind, for example, has become trapped in a self-constructed Centrino debate. His recent Intel attack shows a profound knack for dissecting PowerPoint presentations and little else.

The real Centrino debate should center in on the potential victims of Intel's wireless push. It's companies such as Starbucks, T-Mobile, HP and McDonalds that are swallowing the wireless hype whole with no payback in sight. Intel is doing its part to help out, but the per users hotspot revenue just is not there.

Intel, however, has come up with some creative ideas about where the true value of a hotspot lies. Here's a handy list of "cool" things to do unwired. In a very anti-PC fashion, Intel did not provide a list of uncool things to do unwired.

Whether or not twenty-four hours of free wireless access will be enough to convince anyone of Centrino's value remains to be seen. But you can't blame Intel for giving the proven "first taste is free" business model a try. ®

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