With the launch of its 32nm Atom Z2460 "Medfield" chip, Intel this year is making its long-awaited debut in the mobile phone market.
It’s a move that has already prompted major handset makers including Lenovo and Motorola Mobility to unveil Atom-fueled smartphones, but also one that signifies new growth opportunities for solution providers, said Steve Dallman, vice president and general manager of Inte'ls Worldwide Reseller Organization.
At this week’s XChange Solution Provider event in Los Angeles, Dallman told CRN that Intel-run smartphones, at least at the hardware level, won’t immediately yield new business for solution providers or system builders. But like all mobile devices, Atom-based smartphones will instead offer VARs a chance to provide additional security and integration services to end users embracing the bring-your-own-device (or "BYOD") trend in the enterprise.
"Where there is an opportunity," he said, "is with the consumerization of IT."
Dallman noted that security is the "biggest gap" found within consumerized enterprises and SMBs, as IT departments continue to grapple with new risks introduced through employees accessing corporate data via personal devices. He added that McAfee, which Intel acquired last year, would play a significant role internally for Intel's mobile device strategy.
"[Partners] aren't reselling the hardware, but they're securing it," Dallman said.
George Usi, president of Sacramento, Calif.-based solution provider SacTech, is a testament to Dallman’s theory, having already benefited from the accelerating BYOD trend. He has noticed IT managers and executives alike expressing a fear of employees losing or dropping personal devices hosting corporate or sensitive data. As a result, Usi said, they are turning to SacTech to provide enhanced mobile device management and security services.
"Both of our security and networking businesses… we’ve experienced a compound annual growth rate of almost 30 percent year over year just in the past couple of years," Usi said. "We are experiencing a growth that we know would have been impossible without this consumerization process."
Dallman noted that this year's launch of Microsoft’s Windows 8 will further position Intel as leading chip supplier for the mobile space. And when its next-gen OS Windows 8 is unveiled, Intel plans to stand by it.
"We intend to have a great product with Windows 8," he said.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced at last month's Mobile World Congress event that the company plans to produce its next-gen Atom chips using 22 nm technology, compared to the 32 nm process being used to create Medfield today. Otellini said these 22 nm chips – which are expected to out-do their 32 nm predecessor in terms of both performance and power – are slated to launch in 2013. An even more advanced 14 nm chip will hit the market in 2014, he said.
According to Dallman, these 22 nm chips will give Intel a "four-year lead" over rival chip makers in the mobile space, and make for the highest performing Windows 8 device on the market. "Windows 8 is a tremendous growth opportunity for Intel," Dallman said. "And we will have the best computing out there with our 22 nm [technologies]."
He noted that Windows 8 will not only play into Intel’s mobile strategy, but into their Ultrabook one as well, telling CRN that Intel’s super-thin notebook form factor "will be a huge product" for Microsoft’s newest OS.
Dallman's take on Windows 8 helped put to rest speculation that the long-running relationship between Intel and Microsoft (referred to often as "Wintel") is on the rocks. The chip maker announced a multi-year strategic alliance with Lenovo and Motorola Mobility, both of which churn out devices that run on Google’s Android OS – one of the biggest competitors to the Windows mobile platform. Dallman said that there are no plans to end the long-standing alliance between his company and Microsoft. But he did note that Intel wouldn’t limit itself to Windows when it comes to the smartphone and tablet space.
"Our basic policy is now, and will continue to be, that all operating systems run best on our products," Dallman said.