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Intel's 'steam ship' will dominate the mobile market

Column Even Steve Jobs couldn't have stopped it
Mon Feb 06 2012, 17:48
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Khidr headshotCHIPMAKER Intel has all the tools to dominate the mobile market - a trusted brand name, great research facilities and the ability to make key partnerships.

The firm has been making high-performance chips for yonks and it was only a matter of time before it was going to make a serious assault on the mobile market.

However, in a sector dominated by low-powered, high-efficiency ARM-based chips, many have been sceptical about Intel's hopes. The late Steve Jobs acknowledged that Intel is the best when it comes to high-performance chips, but not all his remarks were quite as complimentary in his autobiography.

Jobs had said that he originally wanted to use Intel chips for his Iphone and Ipad devices, but was quickly talked out of it by engineers and went on to note that there were two reason why Apple went with ARM.

"[First] they are like a steam ship, not very flexible. We're used to going pretty fast," the Apple founder said of Intel.

"Second is that we just didn't want to teach them everything [about the mobile market]."

The second reason is the most likely reason for not going with Intel, but even Steve Jobs must have realised that he wouldn't be able to stop Chipzilla for long.

Intel might not be as quick as Apple, but the firm has not amassed revenues of $54bn and would not be trouncing competitors such as AMD by sitting on its hands. In fact, Intel is ahead of the curve when it comes to fab processes and the performance of processors and supporting chipsets.

At CES in January, Intel was one of the few firms that looked as if it was moving forward. The lack of major product announcements from most firms who were offered precious keynote time was disappointing, especially Microsoft, which ended its long keynote run at the event with a wimper.

However, Intel stole the show with a raft of announcements, including the debut of its Medfield 1.6GHz processor for use in smartphones and tablets along with the introduction of partnerships with Lenovo and Motorola.

Judging by the time-delayed battery demonstration of the Medfield powered smartphone given on stage, Intel is clearly confident that it can provide users with both high-performance devices and all-day battery life.

 

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