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Intel announced Tuesday at the International Consumer Electronics show that it has formed a "multi-year, multi-device" strategic partnership with Motorola Mobility. The chip maker’s new Atom processor Z2460 “Medfield” platform, designed specifically for low-power use in smartphones and tablets, is telling enough of Intel’s long-awaited entry in the mobility space this year, but the unveiling of its alliance with Motorola seemed to solidify the leap.
Motorola Mobility Chairman and CEO Sanjay Jha joined Intel CEO Paul Otellini on stage to announce that the first Atom Z2460-based Motorola smartphone can be expected this summer. Intel’s new mobile reach, however, doesn’t stop there. PC giant Lenovo is also gearing up to launch its new K800 Android smartphone running on Intel’s new Atom chip starting in China next quarter.
"The best of Intel computing is coming to smartphones," Otellini told the audience. "Our efforts with Lenovo and Motorola Mobility will help to establish Intel processors in smartphones and provide a solid foundation from which to build in 2012 and into the future."
Despite Intel’s late-coming to the mobile space, solution providers are confident in the chip maker’s success. Tough competition from chip licensor ARM – which has traditionally dominated the smartphone and tablet market with its energy-efficient architectures – is a certainty. But, according to solution providers, if any company can join the mobility party this late and still manage to capture market share, it’s Intel.
Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based solution provider, believes Intel has been preparing for its entry into the smartphone and tablet space for a while now. They simply had to make the move, Swank told CRN, in order to stay relevant.
"Intel didn’t have much of an option," he said. "[Mobility] is a threat to their core business, and they have to be a player there. So this was a great step in the right direction."
David Stinner, president of US itek Group, a Buffalo, New York-based solution provider, shares Swank’s confidence in Intel. "I don’t think it’s going to take them a lot of time to catch up," Stinner said of the chipmaker. "If Intel wants to be in that space, they are going to be in that space."
Not only will Intel succeed, but its mobile push will benefit the channel, Stinner said. The introduction of Intel Atom processors into the mobile market will lead to greater choice and more competitive pricing for both channel players and end users.
"Whenever there is more of an open market, I think there is more opportunity for us," explained Stinner. "I mean, the fact that we are going to have the Intel instruction set on a smartphone and hopefully other form factor devices that Motorola Mobility and Google will build in the future, I think that means a lot of new opportunities are going to arise for solution providers compared to other processors that have been used in the past."
What’s more, Intel’s alliance with channel-friendly companies such as Lenovo shows promise for solution providers, Stinner continued. ARM’s Cortex processors have a history with top OEMs including LG and Apple, but the U.K.-based chip licensor hasn’t traditionally extended its reach to major channel advocates.
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