Intel’s Under the Radar Smartphone Strategy
Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Lost in the excitement of Apple’s iPhone 5 announcement last week and the flood of un-embargoed iPhone 5 press reviews this week, there was a comparatively low-key event in London on Tuesday. At this event, Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) newly acquired subsidiary, Motorola, announced the newest member of the Motorola smartphone family; the ‘Motorola RAZR i’.
As very near identical variant to Motorola’s recently released ‘RAZR m’ smartphone, the ‘RAZR i’ the latest Android smartphone set to be released in select markets in Europe and Latin America. The phone itself is not what is important though. What are inside this particular smartphone and stamped on the casing are what make this smartphone important. For stamped on the casing is the familiar phrase for laptop owners, “Intel Inside.” And what is inside is an Intel latest Atom processor for smartphones/tablets.
The phone announcement is a much bigger deal for Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) than it is for Googlerola (as the kids are calling it; Google-Motorola). For Googlerola, this is just another very good phone in a family of very good phones, which will all quickly be forgotten once Googlerola announces their next very good phone in a month or two. For Intel however, this is another step down the path to prove that they can compete in an area dominated by NVIDIA, Qualcomm and ARM Holdings (NASDAQ: ARMH). For years, ARM-architecture processors have dominated the smartphone and tablet space, with nearly every major release featuring ARM’s intellectual property. ARM’s processor designs have the favorable reputation of far greater power efficiency compared to Intel’s past smartphone processor offerings, which developed the terrible reputation of being battery-drainer beasts.
Not Intel’s first foray into smartphones, the company has placed its hopes on other so-called mobile heroes in the past. Before this current processor generation (codenamed Medfield), there was the Moorestown platform in 2010. And before Moorestown there were the Menlow platform in 2008 and the first generation McCasin platform in 2007. Learning from past mistakes and missteps, Intel’s fourth generation smartphone/tablet processor appears to be different though. And seemingly to prove that assertion is the inclusion of Intel’s latest processor into Googlerola’s popular RAZR family of smartphones.
The Motorola RAZR i features the Atom Z2480 processor. The 2.0 GHz single-core processor is reportedly the first smartphone processor to be able to reach that 2.0 GHz clock-speed barrier. Intel boasts that their single-core Intel Atom processor is 40% more powerful than the dual-core Apple A5 (ARM-based) processor found in the iPhone 4S. The Atom processor also gives all of that power with a long-lasting battery life. The Motorola RAZR i is said to have the same battery life as its less powerful RAZR m Qualcomm Snapdragon cousin; about 20-hours of what Motorola commonly refers to as 'mixed-use'. If this battery life estimate holds true, it will certainly go a long way to finally dispel Intel’s reputation of power-hungry smartphone processors.
The Motorola RAZR i is not the first smartphone to feature Intel’s fourth generation (Medfield) Atom processors. There have also been the Lava XOLO smartphone in India, the MegaFon SP-A20i smartphone in Russia, the Lenovo K800 in China and the Orange San Diego in France and the United Kingdom. While not the first, the premier Motorola RAZR line of phones is certainly Intel’s biggest smartphone inclusion to date. Along with this RAZR i to be released in Europe and Latin America, Intel has thus far avoided the United States.
Instead the company has chosen more low-key product launches abroad to prove themselves. With its series of overseas releases in increasingly important markets and increasingly important smartphone manufactures, Intel has been slowly showing the rest of the industry that they are at last ready to battle it out with the likes of Nvidia, Qualcomm and ARM Holdings for control over the smartphone/tablet market. You can be sure that when an Intel-powered phone is finally released in the United States, it will be a very large announcement that will have all of the industry buzzing about it.
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