"Intel inside" will soon have a new meaning. On Tuesday, Intel announced that Motorola Mobility and Lenovo will be developing smartphones using Intel processors.
The strategic relationship with Motorola and Lenovo is a multiyear deal and is based on Intel's low-powered Atom platform, with Android-based products beginning to emerge sometime this year.
Intel in Tablets
Intel has been trying to get a bigger foothold into the mobile market, which has become the center of gravity for computing, but tablets and smartphones have largely been built around chips based on designs from ARM Holdings PLC. The Intel Atom processor Z2460 platform, formerly called Medfield, was designed specifically for use in smartphones and tablets.
In his keynote speech Tuesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said the deal with Motorola and Lenovo would "help to establish Intel processors in smartphones."
Motorola's CEO Sanjay Jha joined Otellini onstage, and noted that his company's pact with Intel will include using the chips not only in smartphones, but in tablets. For tablets that use the Atom platform, Otellini said the user experience bar would be raised with such features as instant-on capability and support for Windows 8's Metro interface.
Also participating in Otellini's keynote was Liu Jun, Lenovo senior vice president and president of the company's Mobile Internet and Digital Home product group. He showed the K800 smartphone, which the company said has multitasking capability. It will be available in the latter part of this year in China, and will run on China Unicom's network.
'Not on Equal Footing'
The K800 features Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, has support for HSPA+, and uses a Lenovo LeOS user interface that has been customized for the Chinese market. No word yet when the K800, which also runs Android, will be available in other markets.
To assist manufacturers in developing smartphones using Intel technology, the company also demonstrated its Smartphone Reference Design, a fully functional Intel-based prototype smartphone with a 4.03-inch LCD touchscreen and two cameras.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence Corp., noted that "anytime you're late to a market in this fast-paced environment, you're not on equal footing." But, she added, Lenovo and "especially Motorola" are good partners to have, and this deal is "a good first step" for Intel.
The company is obviously going to have to expand beyond these two manufacturers, DiDio pointed out, but, "if anybody can make this work, it's Intel."
For this year's show, Intel's big mobile product release is largely based around Ultrabooks -- very thin, powerful, quick-to-start laptops that use the company's specifications for the category as well as its processors. During Otellini's presentation, Dell showed its first Ultrabook, the XPS 13, which uses the Intel Core i7 processor. A variety of manufacturers are showing new Ultrabooks at this year's CES, and more than 75 models are expected to be released by the end of this year.