Intel pushing for modular notebooks

— 11:55 AM on March 27, 2006

At the Intel Solutions Summit partner conference, Intel launched the Interchangeability Initiative with the purpose of moving the notebook industry towards modular designs. Intel identified seven components (hard drive, optical drive, LCD panel, battery, notebook panel, power adapter, and keyboard) at the heart of notebook systems, and suggested that they should be interchangeable between different notebook designs. Compal and Quanta—the world's biggest notebook manufacturers—as well as Asus were approached by Intel to build 11 devices based on those interchangeable components. Steve Dallman, Intel's Director of American Distribution and Channel Sales and Marketing, says that moving towards component modularity will improve service and lower repair downtimes for consumers:

"The market desires an interchangeability like there is for the desktop," Dallman said. "There is an ecosystem built around the desktop PC. When you buy a hard drive, almost every single time, it fits in your tower. When you buy a graphics card it fits in the slot. When your notebook display cracks on an airplane you are talking about a 10-week waiting period for a spare part. You are without your notebook for too long."
Dallman says the Initiative should take hold in three to five years. If successful, it could significantly increase the homebuilt notebook market, which currently consists of only a handful of notebook barebones—most with fairly limited component modularity. A move to interchangeable notebooks would both increase component choice and allow average users to replace parts such as batteries and power adapters more cheaply, as they wouldn't have to purchase potentially expensive proprietary parts.
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