Google gives Intel a major partner in the mobile computing space as it looks to chip away at ARM's dominance in the market.
SAN FRANCISCO-Intel's partnership with
Google around optimizing the Android operating system for its Atom platform
could be a boon for the chip maker's ambitions
in the booming smartphone
Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini
announced the partnership Sept. 13 at the Intel Developer Forum here, being
joined on stage by Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile for Google. The
two talked in broad strokes about what the partnership will mean, and showed
off a prototype smartphone running the Android "Honeycomb" OS and
powered by Intel's "Medfield" Atom platform.
Both executives spoke about how the
alliance will enable the two companies to extend the reach of their respective
The announcement comes as Intel gets
ready to introduce in the first half of 2012 the first smartphones running on
its processors, a move that will put it in direct competition with ARM Holdings,
whose low-power mobile chip designs dominate the burgeoning smartphone and
tablet markets. It also comes as executives with longtime Intel partner
Microsoft-at the software maker's BUILD show in Los Angeles-tout Windows-based
phones and tablets running on ARM chips. However, Microsoft did demonstrate a Windows 8 tablet
powered by an Intel chip.
The mobile computing space is expected
to grow rapidly over the next few years, with market research firm Gartner
predicting that tablet sales will grow from almost 70 million this year to 294
million in 2015, and In-Stat forecasting 850 million smartphone sales in 2015. While
Intel and Microsoft find themselves on the outside looking in right now, executives
with both companies expect that to change starting next year. But it also could
mean some splintering in the tight relationship between the two vendors.
Greg Richardson, an analyst with Technology
Business Research, said the Google deal
is an important move for Intel.
In the mobile world, partnerships are important given the emphasis end users
put on the ecosystem surrounding the device, rather than simply the device
itself, Richardson said in an interview with eWEEK
at the show here.
"Until now, we've seen Intel going
it alone," he said, noting Intel executive statements about continuing
development of the MeeGo mobile OS despite partner Nokia backing out earlier
this year in favor of Windows.
With Google, Intel now has a partner
whose operating system is in a wide range of mobile devices from multiple
vendors, from HTC and Samsung to LG Electronics and Sony. In addition, Google
is expanding its reach in the market with its $12.5 billion bid to buy device
maker Motorola Mobility. The deal could benefit Intel in that it will enable
Google to build its own smartphones.
Intel's Atom platform is aimed squarely
at the mobile space, offering significantly better energy efficiency and
battery life than other Intel processing platforms.