They're one of the 3 brands that I consider high end - Intel, Supermicro, and Tyan. I wouldn't want a server board not designed by one of those 3. Down to 2 I guess..
Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, etc etc are good for everyday desktop boards, and I prefer them for desktop features and overclocking, but in terms of quality they're not the top tier IMO.
At least with older Intel boards, they were extremely conservative in their designs, and had amazing documentation. Where a Taiwanese/Chinese board designer would give 3 sentences of Engrish, Intel would give 3 pages of technical detail. And if you did something wrong, Intel wouldn't let you cheat. They wrote the chipset and processor specs so everything was by the book - both in the motherboard design and in what they required of you the user.
I haven't used a modern Intel board, so maybe they've changed.
I've seen them at Fry's, but that was a long time ago. I don't know if they're still there. About the only thing I'd probably buy one for would be a low power NAS, not a desktop.
Historically, I think Intel used to sell a huge number of boards for use in branded PCs. Many P1-P3 era Dells, Gateways, etc that I've taken apart had Intel motherboards in them. But nowadays I guess the major brands source boards directly from FoxConn, ECS, or somebody else, not so much Intel anymore.
Good point. I think there will continue to be a market for desktop hardware, but I don't know how big a market it will be. I think that market should at least include gamers, home NAS systems, and anybody who prefers sitting at a full size desk with full size devices. Personally I spend too much time in front of my computer to hunch over smaller hardware. Some people sit on a couch in front of a big screen TV, I sit in front of my desktop PC. I can't be the only one.