The arrival of the Apple iPhone has paved the way for a new breed of ultra mobile internet devices, signalling a greater impetus in mobile computing.

This was the sentiment discussed by a handful of the industry’s biggest mobile device developers during the Notebook computer manufacturer fireside chat – “Expanding the Notebook Computer market with WiMAX – Making ‘Ultra-portable’ Ultra-profitable” on Tuesday morning.

But Sriram Viswanathan, VP of Intel Capital, director of the mobility sector, and general manager of the company’s WiMAX program office, promised WiMAX would deliver much more in terms of internet experience than what is currently on offer from devices such as the iPhone.

Viswanathan described how the chip giant is positioning its flagship Atom platform as a director competitor in a sector currently dominated by smartphones. “It’s about bringing full internet capabilities to a small form factor,” he said, addressing a packed auditorium.

Intel unveiled a platform based on the Atom earlier this year that promises to enable PC-like capabilities, “an uncompromised internet experience” and long battery life in smaller mobile devices. Viswanathan said that Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) based on this technology would be positioned alongside the traditional laptop segment.

Alain Kergoat, marketing director for Toshiba Europe, revealed that the PC manufacturer is already testing WiMAX technology in its notebook designs and said that take up of the new form factor of MIDs has been “impressive”. However, Kergoat was quick to point out that a technology agnostic approach is important in the manufacturer market – “One technology will not change all the others,” he said, “There is room for all of them and they apply to different user cases. All technologies will co-exist.”

Likewise, software developer Microsoft also wants to build on its existing investment in wifi technology as it moves to make its products WiMAX ready. Amer Hassan, architect with Microsoft, said that the company has a WiMAX programme underway and pointed out that the software stack for its flagship operating system, Vista, is designed for operability with WiMAX. “Microsoft has a large investment in wifi and wants to make a similar investment in WiMAX,” Hassan said.