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Intel Exec: Project Athena Offers New Refresh Opportunities For Partners

'It comes down to having a clear vision for A) what the laptop is good at and why it's so important in people's lives and then B) what's going to be new and exciting and different about the experience,' Intel executive Josh Newman tells CRN in an interview.

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Project Athena Laptops Will Include vPro Models

The new wave of laptops that come out of Intel's Project Athena innovation program will present new commercial refresh opportunities for channel partners, a company executive said.

Intel recently released new details for its Project Athena program which aims to create a new standard for ultra-thin laptops and 2-and-1s by incentivizing OEMs and system builders to adhere to an annual specification in exchange for receiving marketing and engineering support.

[Related: Intel's 10th-Gen Core CPUs: 5 Things To Know About The 10nm Chips]

John Newman, vice president and general manager of Mobile Innovation Segments at Intel, told CRN in a recent interview that the new Project Athena laptops coming out from leading OEMs will create new openings for partners whose customers target mobile workers.

"Because we believe deeply in the impact a great laptop has on a person's life, if we can land that with clarity and deliver the product truth behind that, then yeah, we think people will refresh faster, whether that's an enterprise — they have to look at their fleet and go, 'OK, wow, I've got to do something' — or consumer, who's like, 'OK, compared to what I have that's five years old, that now is a compelling value proposition,'" Newman said.

Only a few Project Athena laptops have been revealed so far, including the updated Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the HP Envy 13 Wood Series. But Newman told CRN that future laptops will include commercial models that sport Intel's vPro processors, which include an advanced set of management capabilities that can reportedly help businesses cut down on IT costs.

"One of the things that comes up a lot is, 'hey, I've got to offer better devices just to compete for the future workforce. I've got to offer them devices that meet their lifestyle and expectation. And that's where Project Athena is focused: on that more independent kind of person, who has a small business or entrepreneurial side gig, that thing that's growing like crazy," Newman said. "But [the research also] hits the same people that are coming into the traditional workforce, and the IT managers have to address their needs."

In the interview with CRN, Newman talked about how Project Athena's marketing efforts will impact channel partners, the scope of Intel's ethnographic research that informed Project Athena's specifications and where Project Athena laptops will fall price-wise.

He also discussed whether Project Athena could impact laptop designs using competitors' processors and how the company is planning to apply the Project Athena approach to other segments within the chipmaker's PC business.

The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

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