Known mostly for its semiconductor dominance in the data center and traditional PC sectors (together accounting for more than 90% of its revenues), and still tops in semis, Intel has recently been getting its technology more out and about. The company’s investment arm, Intel Capital, solidified its MacBook Air-ish aspirations with the $300 million Ultrabook Fund, and Intel’s long struggle to get its chips into mobile devices is starting to come to fruition.
You would think that a company of Intel’s pedigree would aspire to more than just being along for the ride, but it has officially earmarked $100 million toward just that. Intel Capital has set up the Connected Car Fund to fuel the chip champion’s efforts over the next four to five years at bringing in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), driver aid tech, mobile connectivity, and other automotive wizardry to get us ever closer to the craved Jetsons experience. Additionally, Intel announced the opening of a new global Automotive Innovation and Product Development Center in Germany to focus on IVI and telematics (the integrated deployment of telecommunications and IT).
Besides the frivolous DVD functionality, such technology is already in use by a number of carmakers — from Ford’s music syncing features, to GM’s OnStar — and is revving up. An Intel press release points to research that says the number of Internet-connected vehicles, sitting at less than one million in 2009, will grow to more than 40 million over the next five years. As soon as 2014, automobiles are projected to be one of the top three fastest-growing connectivity destinations.
There is no question that Intel has a fair grasp on the road mobility is taking, but its struggles in the smartphone arena suggest that a checkered-flag finish is far from certain.