Intel Smartphone: White Box Windows 8 Docking Station?

Intel smartphone prototype as photographed by testers at the MIT Technology Review.. Is it really just a white box design to encourage developers to build compliant phones (and tablets) for an upcoming super docking station? My sources say yes.

Intel used to be in the white box business — that is, it would build label-less computers and then sell them at discounted rates for smaller PC makers to label for themselves. It was a good way of getting more PC makers in the game at a time when that mattered.

MIT Technology Review testers took the below pic of a prototype Intel smartphone and there is a tablet prototype, too. Could these just be white box units to push Android? Or is something more complicated going on?

I choose option two.

Intel will not stand by as tablets eclipsed PCs. The post PC era, as the late Steve Jobs called it, is not in Intel’s interest.

Or is it? Sources say Intel and Microsoft are working together on a post PC of their own — a smart dock running Windows 8 that would work with Windows 8 tablets from Samsung and other makers.

We’re talking an extremely smart dock, plus big monitor, keyboard, fast ports, lots of storage, RAM and high-speed CPU action.

Update: At MWC 2012 in Barcelona, Asus showed a docking station/tablet/headset that comes remarkably close to this vision.

Theoretically, sources told me, this would keep Intel hardware and Microsoft operating system software in the game at home and at work for years to come.

The sources told me Intel, Samsung, Motorola, Google and others were working on a smart tablet doc station that would let Android 4 based phones and tablets plug into it — and suddenly switch to the heavier Windows 8 system once connected in the doc.

It was supposed to be powered by Intel’s so-called Medfield chip. I asked if Intel would whitebox, or create unlabeled phones and tablets, in case they couldn’t convince enough handset makers to play.

That won’t be a problem, they told me. Plus, they said Intel and Microsoft thought it would be an easy sell. They said both companies believed that the tablet experience was too limiting at home or office — the problem is a tablet or smartphone’s small keyboard, screen, and light mobile OS were all out of place if you’re working in place — at a desk at home or at work.

The guys told me the plan was to let Android tablet and smartphone users get a Windows PC-like experience simply by creating a smart docking station, a big monitor, ports in and out, a keyboard and, of course, Intel’s high-powered Medfield chips and Microsoft’s Windows 8. At the time, Intel and Microsoft reps told me they had no comment. The Microsoft rep added, though, that the idea was “interesting.”

So could your next PC be a tablet?

At least that was the idea.

This year we did see Samsung show a similar sounding device, hear Intel execs talking off the record a bit about the Android to Windows 8 in-dock toggle, and watch Microsoft chastise Intel for discussing a “rumor.”

But now, according to The MIT Technology Review, Intel’s designed a smartphone and a tablet prototype. This very well could be an element of the overall project, which seems to be greatly pushed back.

I assume Intel will be using these as white box products — ie, they’ll sell it to other manufacturers and let them label it as their own, an old Intel practice — and examples of what you need for this upcoming super docking station reportedly coming.

This is an interesting development. Maybe building these things is more difficult than Intel originally thought? A year is a long time to wait, but then again, who knows when Windows 8 will come out. Probably early 2013 … stay tuned …

1 Comment

  • I’ve been predicting this for a year or two now. People want one core device… the better they can be supported with varying interfaces to that device – at the home, office, car – the better.