End of an Era: Intel Exits the Motherboard Business

There are two seminal moments in m personal history that explain why I ended up in the technology industry.

The first was when I first encountered a BASIC compiler in the 8th grade and discovered that I could write a program, store it on a cassette tape (that I later upgraded to an 8″ floppy drive) and make the computer do things, however trivial it was.

The second event was prying open my computer, not the TRS-80 that I learned BASIC on, and swapped out components. An entirely new world opened up to me when I learned about all the cool things you could do with the BIOS. The driven curiosity I had about the hardware, software, and the points of intersection led me to accumulate boxes of parts, many computers, and a continued fascination with how they all come together.

It was with a tinge of sadness that I read today that Intel is pulling out of the motherboard business. As it relates to the overall hobbyist market, Intel’s exit is hardly earth shaking because they are but one supplier and, arguably, not a very good one compared to Asian motherboard (mobo) manufacturers.

However, there are two aspects of this story that I find melancholy, the first is that we are clearly moving away from a desktop personal computer experience and that move is accelerating. In the near future it is entirely rational to expect that desktop computers will no longer exist as a product category, giving way to integrated home media devices, mobile, and laptop as desktop replacements.

I am not entirely saddened by this as I have not had a desktop computer in many years, and alternative form factors are available that dramatically shrink the footprint of a desktop PC to that of a brick. The form factor does not matter that much.

The second observation is more disheartening and that is the move to highly integrated hardware that does not allow for customization and component replacement. If this trend continues, which it almost certainly will, we will end up in a hardware market where socketed components are no longer available. you will get it the way the manufacturer intended or not at all, or you will have to be satisfied with components that are of older generation and lower capabilities.

 

[Cross-posted at Venture Chronicles]

About Jeff Nolan

My name is Jeff Nolan and I write Venture Chronicles. What started, in 2002, as a simple initiative to understand this thing called “blogs” that I kept hearing about has evolved into something much more significant. Home About Venture Chronicles About Venture Chronicles My name is Jeff Nolan and I write Venture Chronicles. What started, in 2002, as a simple initiative to understand this thing called “blogs” that I kept hearing about has evolved into something much more significant. Along the way to becoming a bona fide blogger I started to understand the implications of user generated content. At the time I was a venture capitalist for SAP, the enterprise software company, and in my travels in the enterprise software market it became evident that blogging would be a powerful communication channel for enterprises to use, what we now call social media, and a powerful information collection mechanism for bottom up corporate intelligence. Combined with search technology, social networking software, and wikis, I was witnessing the inception of an entirely new generation of knowledge management software. I am currently the VP Product Marketing for Get Satisfaction, the simple and effective way to build online communities that enable productive conversations between companies and their customers. Over 50,000 companies use Get Satisfaction to create a social support experience, build better products, realize SEO benefits, and take advantage of brand loyalty behaviors that results in strong word of mouth marketing experiences in the market. I can be reached at jnolan-at-gmail-dot-com.