Intel reportedly is partnering with another India-based smartphone maker that will build a device powered by an Intel-chip running the Android operating system.
According to a July 9 report on the IbnLive news site in India, officials with Karbonn Mobile said they will release an Intel-based Android smartphone by the end of 2012. One executive said that Karbonns R&D team has been working with Intel officials on the project for quite some time now.
With the release of its low-power Atom Z2460 Medfield chip, Intel has begun an aggressive push into the smartphone space, part of a larger effort to expand the companys reach beyond its traditional PC and server chip businesses. Intel executives view mobile devicesin particular, smartphones and tabletsas a significant growth opportunity, despite the dominant presence in the market of low-power chips designed by ARM Holdings and manufactured by the likes of Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
Intel made its first significant step in April, when India-based Lava International announced the XOLO 900, an Android smartphone powered by a single-core 1.6GHz Medfield chip and offering a touch-screen and near-field communication (NFC) capabilities.
Intel also is getting support from other phone manufacturers. In May, OEM Lenovo unveiled the LePhone K800 for the Chinese market, while later that month, officials with U.K.-based company Orange announced its San Diego smartphone for the United Kingdom, marking the first Intel-based phone for a Western market. The San Diego also is powered by a Medfield chip.
Intel also is partnering with handset maker ZTE, and Motorola Mobility has said it will build both smartphones and tablets running on Intel processors.
Intels push into the smartphone space has helped fuel a growing competition with ARM, not only in smartphones and tablets, but also in PCs and low-power servers, a market dominated by Intel where ARM and its partners are looking to expand.
Officials with Intel have said over the past few months they expect to become significant players in the smartphone space over the next few years, thanks in large part to their Medfield platform. The company also has created a smartphone reference design based on Medfield.
Intel doesnt go into markets to be a small player, Intel CFO Stacy Smith told Bloomberg in April. Its a billion-unit market, so theres huge opportunity for us.
Around the same time, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini told The Wall Street Journal that he would be disappointed if we’re not a major player in a few years.”
ARM officials believe Intel will see some gains in the market, but nothing significant. CEO Warren East told The Wall Street Journal in May that his company will be a bigger player in PCs than Intel will be in smartphones. By 2015, East said he expects that 10 percent to 20 percent of notebook PCs will be powered by ARM-designed chips, while Intel will probably have about 5 percent to 10 percent of the smartphone space.
“It’s going to be quite hard for Intel to be much more than just one of several players,” East said.