Yesterday, Intel, the largest semiconductor chip manufacturer, joined hands with Google to develop and promote new Intel Atom chips powering Android smartphones. This development partnership marks Intel’s entry into the booming smartphone market.
The partnership entails both companies to work on optimizing future versions of the Android Operating System to work on Intel’s x-86 based Atom processor. This move can be seen as an attempt to wrestle the market share from the ARM dominated mobile industry.
Intel executives, at the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco, said that the first phones featuring these chips would be launched in the first half of 2012. Intel realized that developing new chips for its internal Meego operating system would not bear fruit as Meego has a tiny market share compared to Android. Google has already announced its plan to acquire Motorola Mobility. So, you could expect to see new Motorola phones powered by Intel Atom running Android Operating System soon.
Intel has the largest market share when it comes to manufacturing chips for PCs. But there has been a phenomenal increase in research and interest in the smartphone and tablet segment. Intel has struggled to gain a foothold with their Atom processor for smartphones. Most of the smartphones and tablets run on the ARM architecture and companies like Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Samsung already have a head start with the production of these chips. One of the main reasons for the popularity of ARM based chips is that the power consumption is less, a major factor for hand held devices.
But Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini is optimistic about the late entry of Intel. He feels that there is still quite a lot of opportunity in this business and that there is no clear winner. “Good products on good platforms can really make a difference in the industry“, he said.
The new Atom chip called “Medfield” has already been demonstrated recently at the developer conference. Medfield is touted to have better graphics performance and improved power efficiency compared to its predecessors. While competitors are doling out dual core chips, Intel will stick to a single core for the Medfield. With the x-86 architecture coming to smartphones and tablets, Intel hopes to bring the uniformity that will bind smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops together. Intel had partnered with Nokia for Meego, but Nokia struck a deal with Microsoft for using Windows mobile OS as the OS for Nokia phones. So, Intel had to abandon Meego and turn to Android.
While Intel’s association with Microsoft in the PC business continues to flourish, Intel’s association with Android pitches it against Microsoft in the smartphone & tablet segment.
Will Intel be able to take the sheen off ARM processors? Or is it too late? Tell us