If it looks like a smart phone and talks like a smart phone, it's a mobile Internet device (MID). That's the message that seems to be coming from Intel and LG Electronics, which on Sunday laid out plans to collaborate on a new range of MIDs with high-end smart phone "functionality" based on the chip maker's Atom-based hardware platform code-named Moorestown.
LG already produces MIDs and netbooks based around Intel's low-power Atom processors, as well as more powerful mobile PCs built with more expensive parts from the chip giant, such as its Core 2 Duo chips. LG's first Atom-based netbook was released in late 2008, while early excitement about the MID category hasn't been met with much volume demand in the market.
Now the two companies plan to build a MID -- a small, handheld computing device that connects to the Internet -- that also lets users make phone calls. That seems to be a concession of sorts that MIDs have been trapped in a no-man's land between smart phones like the Apple iPhone and netbooks, both of which categories have enjoyed considerable success even during the economic downturn.
The Moorestown platform from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel is expected to arrive in 2010. It's the chip giant's second-generation MID platform and furthers the System-on-Chip (SOC) architecture that Intel plans around Atom. The new SOC processors for Moorestown are code-named Lincroft and consist of a 45-nanometer Atom with integrated graphics, video and memory controller.
The platform's I/O hub supports several wireless protocols and is code-named Langwell. LG is "working with Ericsson to bring 3G network capability to its planned MID," according to the Seoul, South Korea-based device maker, a sign of the direction these first Atom-based MID/smart phone hybrids are likely to go.
Intel promises a 10x reduction in idle power consumption on Moorestown against the current generation of Atom-based MIDs. And look out Microsoft -- like current Intel-based MIDs, the new platform runs on a Linux-based operating system, Moblin v2.0. The next version of the Moblin OS was "designed specifically to deliver a great PC-like Internet experience while also supporting cell phone voice capabilities," according to Intel.