Intel is taking steps to increase its presence in the mobility segment.
As more and more consumers and businesses gravitate toward
tablets, the pressure is on Intel to establish a substantial presence in that
market. Back in October 2010, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini declared
that his company would use "all of the assets at our disposal to win this
However, the tablet processor market continues to be
dominated by chips designed by ARM and manufactured by Qualcomm, Texas
Instruments, Nvidia and other chip makers. Intel has tried to carve a niche for
itself with the lower-power Atom platform, but it hasn't managed to "win" to
nearly the extent desired by Otellini.
That being said, Intel is taking steps to increase its
presence in the mobility segment. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in
September, the company announced an alliance with Google, which will optimize
future versions of Android for the Atom platform. Intel is also helping develop
"ultrabooks," which it hopes will allow it to exploit interest in
thin-and-light form factors, and the MeeGo operating system for tablets and
The first ultrabooks will sport Intel's current "Sandy
Bridge" core processors. However, another wave will come next year powered by
the chip maker's upcoming "Ivy Bridge" platform, which promises improved
performance and energy efficiency.
In 2013, Intel will release "Haswell," another platform for
ultrabooks that the company claims will cut idle platform power by 20 times,
with as much as 10 days' worth of battery life in standby mode.
However, there are also signs that Intel's slow progress in
the tablet market could cause the company trouble in the long term. For one
thing, Microsoft is now planning for Windows 8 to run on both x86 and ARM
architectures, which could boost the fortunes of Nvidia and other companies,
while weakening the traditionally strong relationship between Microsoft and
Fully aware of the challenges, Intel is accelerating its
pace and aggression in tablets, said Mark Miller, director of communications
for the company's Netbook and Tablet Group.
That means developing
products that meet the needs of not only consumers, he said, but also IT
administrators and CIOs who desire "strong passcodes, secure boot, some level
of content encryption and antivirus." In turn, that means Intel's tablet
efforts are focused on everything from data protection to anti-malware.
Business customers, Miller added, are experiencing what he
termed "pretty significant angst" over tablet support and security. "Support is
the big one. It's largely around legacy apps, and there's a lot of work to be
According to Miller, "Tablets are coming whether we like it
or not." The majority of companies are already investigating how tablets will
fit into their IT infrastructure. Consumers want to bring their personal
tablets into their work spaces, which raises questions of support,
manageability, and whether to prioritize feature development toward end users
or administrators. "We're getting a lot of inbound requests," he said. "We're
working frantically to cover that."
If Intel was slow to join the party, the company seems to be
making a concerted effort to make up for lost time. But, as with most things
tablet-related, the competition is intense.