Intel announced today (Thursday) its plans to partner with the Taiwanese government and invest in the island nation’s IT industry to launch an Open Source Software Development Center for mobile devices. Building on Taiwan’s undisputed role as a leading center for creating connected consumer devices, CEO Paul Otellini indicated that Intel had signed an agreement with the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA). MOEA and Intel will establish a center for enabling Moblin and other OSS optimized for devices based on the Intel Atom. At the same time, Intel Capital will invest NT$386M (US$11.5M) in Taiwanese carrier VMAX to support deployment of Taiwan’s first mobile WiMax network in the first half of 2009.
This move by Intel is good for everyone: good for Intel, who is working with a large ecosystem with its recently-launched mobile/embedded Atom architecture CPUs. It’s good for Taiwanese OEMs, who already have launched Atom-based devices, but who crave availability of a richer Linux-based software stack and more opportunity for localization and local value-added software. It’s good for Taiwanese end-users, who will enjoy high-bandwidth wireless internet access, with new options for data and streaming media. And it’s good for the “rest of us”, since Taiwan-local rollouts of new concepts and products pave the way for cost-down, high-volume versions of the same technologies and devices in short order around the world.
For both fans and critics of the MID concept and form factor, this double-whammy announcement means that the MID is here to stay. Industry analysts project Atom-based MIDs will enjoy worldwide shipment of 86M+ units by 2013.
Giving the nascent MID device class firehose-level bandwidth, together with a desktop and server-compatible CPU running an open source stack, opens this converged platform to a wealth of new possibilities. Combining lower-powered Atom with Linux-based Moblin and high speed WiMAX lends solid credibility to Intel’s vision for MIDs - one that fuses long-lived, well-provisioned, connected mobile devices with always on, always available multimedia and social networking.
The best part is that this is on a completely open source stack based on mainstream Linux technology. The more successful these efforts are the stronger Linux will become in other categories of desktop computing. It seems Intel has really gotten the concept of how to work with the community and further their business goals. I suspect many of their industry counterparts are taking note.