Does Intel need to pour millions into Ultrabook fund?

Summary:Intel has pledged at least $300 million to develop its MacBook Air competitor, which raises questions about how valuable this project actually is.

Intel just announced a new plan to allot $300 million to an investment fund for bolstering hardware and software companies that will be contributing to its Ultrabook.

The Silicon Valley giant is betting big on these slim notebooks, and as ZDNet's John Morris puts it, Intel is hoping "to breathe new life into the PC."

An endeavor like this could go either way. Either Intel will actually end up with a revolutionary product that sells big...or it will end up with a glorified netbook for which no one wants to shell out hundreds of dollars.

Intel is aiming to keep these puppies below $1,000 each, which will be necessary if it wants to survive against the only other true contender in the envelope-thin category, the MacBook Air. (Although, it's sort of funny as the Air runs on Intel chips, but I digress...)

However, there isn't a right or wrong answer here -- at least not yet. Of course, once these Ultrabooks hit the market, then we can figure that out.

But for now, Intel has to take its gamble. Sometimes gambles like this do pay off...and then they really don't. For example, although neither RIM nor HP likely plugged in $300 million for the PlayBook and TouchPad, those haven't turned out so well.

There is obviously some kind of demand out there for ultra-thin laptops and tablets that only Apple has been able to fufill for the most part. Thus, the door is open for competition, someone really should step through it. The industry really does need a breath of fresh air. If providing funding to tech partners is the key to doing so, then perhaps Intel is on the right track by making the Ultrabook into more of a collaborative effort.

Or not. Acer CEO Stan Shih recently labeled tablets and specifically named Ultrabooks as passing fads. Maybe if Intel's investment pays off, Shih will change his tune.

Related:

Topics: Intel

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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