Intel looks for “the next Google” with Web 2.0

Today Intel publicly unveiled its first foray into the world of Web 2.0—a bookmarking site where users can submit and vote on all kinds of software, from desktop applications to Web-based services. The idea behind the new Cool Software site, which Intel operated internally before opening it to the public today, is that it will provide Intel—both its research arm and its investing arm, Intel Capital—with an early glimpse of The Next Big Thing. 老域名购买

In a briefing, Intel's Innovation Acceleration manager, Dave McKinney, told me that "we want to find the next Google, before it becomes Google." But the problem that the company has in guiding its research and investing efforts is that the pool of potential future Googles is just too big. So Intel decided to "crowd-source" the task of identifying hot new ideas and companies by building an internal bookmarking site where the Intel folks responsible for keeping their fingers on the pulse of the software industry could collectively work to spot future Google (or future VMware) contenders.

The bookmarking site grew internally, as other Intel employees from different parts of the company began using it to mark their favorite software finds, and eventually the decision was made to open it to the public. Intel isn't quite sure what the public will do with the new site, which is based on the open-source Pligg project but has some proprietary modifications, but it's anxious to find out. Because the site already has a solid internal user base that has been using it successfully, the company can afford to just open it up and see what happens without too much in the way of concrete expectations. McKinney told me that it's possible that competitors could even use the site and mine it for trends.

Finding a way

One of the most fascinating and important stories that I've watched develop over the past four years is Intel's transition from hardware company that could pretty much dictate the pace and direction of technological advancement on the PC platform to a sort of hardware/software hybrid entity that, like the rest of the industry in the post-clockspeed era, is left to wonder about what kinds of things people will do with the ever more ubiquitous transistors that it makes. In short, the answer to "What's next?" in the PC space used to be, "Whatever Intel's labs are working on." But in the post-PC, post-clockspeed era, the answer to "What's next?" is, "Whatever some programmer in India or in China or in a dorm room is working on that's about to catch the world by surprise as the Next Big Thing."

Intel's Terascale research program, its open benchmarking consortium, its hiring of a horde of anthropologists who go out and profile how ordinary people in a variety of cultures use technologies—all of these efforts represent attempts by Intel to peer just a little further into the increasingly crowded and chaotic future of applications so that the company can build the hardware that will fit those applications. This new bookmarking site is just one more effort by another part of the company to look into this blooming software ecosystem and zero in on the species that are having the most success.

Because this software ecosystem expands dramatically every time a new process generation drives networked general-purpose processors into a new niche, Intel's success with making transistors and wireless networking cheaper and more ubiquitous has the direct effect of making its forward-looking efforts that much harder.