Feature Article

May 22, 2013

Has Intel Begun to Focus on Mobile Tech?

Intel is the world’s largest semiconductor chip manufacturer. It is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers. Intel Corporation is a hybrid of Integrated Electronics, and everyone the world over knows its name.

Earlier this month on May 11, an Intel director made the comment that the Motorola Droid Razr would run much faster and more efficiently on an Intel chip. When asked the question, “Where can I buy an Intel phone?” the unfortunate response was that you cannot buy one in the U.S.

Apparently, if the phone does not have LTE, then U.S. carriers will not carry it. For Intel this is still something that is in the works. This is why other chip manufacturers such as Samsung and Qualcomm, which use an architecture design that is licensed from ARM.

In the past, Intel has invested billions of dollars towards mobile initiatives. Unfortunately, they have not been able to follow through with any developments. This could all be changing. Intel now has a new CEO. His name is Brian Krzanich and he replaces Paul Otellini. He has made some big changes in a very short time.

Probably one of the biggest changes that Krzanich has made was the creation of a new unit within Intel aimed at growing and expanding the company’s market share in mobile technology. Intel has been extremely slow in getting into the smartphone and tablet world.

Intel built its PC business on "reference designs." Essentially, it told PC-makers how to make the computers and sold them the chips to do so. Nearly all of these computers ran a single operating system known as Microsoft Windows. Since Intel's chips were the most powerful, they pretty much controlled the market.

When smartphones first appeared on the market, they were designed to connect to wireless networks, and performance was not the prime consideration. Smartphone makers began to use chips from ARM Holdings. The fact that unlike Intel the ARM chips were designed to be customizable made them more appealing to the smartphone makers.

With Krzanich at the reins making changes and creating mobile departments within Intel, there may still be a chance for Intel to enter the mobile arena. An Intel spokesman, Bill Calder, said, "We're behind on LTE. We're racing as fast as we can to catch up." He mentioned that Intel-based LTE chips will be available by the end of the year.

In comparison, Intel is doing much better with tablets than it is with smartphones, by creating a version of Android that runs on Intel chips. Some analysts are saying that Intel has more Android developers than Google.

Intel still has a very long way to go just to catch up. This is a move in the right direction but the road is long and filled with potholes and curves.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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