Inside Intel's Mobile Strategy: Opportunities and Challenges

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2015-09-30 Print this article Print
Intel's mobile strategy

In response to the rapid changes in the technology space—including mobility—Intel executives changed the way the business units operated, and it has helped the company drive such innovations, which in turn, has helped it open up new markets and new opportunities, Orr said. In talking with Intel engineers, he said he found that they no longer discuss what the company does and doesn't do, but instead, "it's more about prioritizing the 'what-ifs.'" Now, with the changes made and a larger array of applications for its technology, Intel has a "bigger swath of many opportunities."

Brookwood agreed that the IoT presented an opportunity for Intel though it also came with its share of challenges. It's a new market where the Intel and ARM ecosystems are fairly evenly matched, and where energy efficiency is important—where metrics like performance carry less weight than performance-per-watt. It's also big and getting bigger—Cisco Systems officials expect the number of connected devices worldwide to jump from 25 billion last year to more than 50 billion by 2020.

However, a hurdle again is pricing, he said. Chips for such devices sell for less than what Intel gets for its PC processors. Intel needs to sell enough chips to help drive profits in the space. However, Intel executives are confident about the opportunity. Over the past few years, they have created an IoT business unit and another group for new devices, such as wearables. They've created the small, low-power Quark chip family and development boards and modules like Edison, Galileo and Curie, and are partnering or investing in companies that make everything from fashionable connected watches to drones.

In the most recent quarter, Intel's IoT business saw 4 percent growth, Krzanich said.

Brookwood also noted another opportunity for Intel in the mobile space. Connected devices are linked to the cloud, which is creating huge demand for infrastructure products for these cloud environments. Intel's silicon touches every part of the chain, from the end-user devices through the network and into the data centers, which is helping drive strong growth in the chip maker's Data Center Group. In the most recent quarter, the group saw its revenues hit $3.9 billion, a 10 percent jump from the same period in 2014.

 "As people move to smartphones, all smartphones need cloud services, which need infrastructure, which is significantly x86," he said.


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