During Intel’s Press conference at this year’s CES 2013, Intel put a bigger than usual focus on their smartphone business. For the first time, they actually wanted to talk about their smartphone business.
In 2012, Intel made rather large strides in their bid to enter the smartphone market. In 2012, they did not necessarily experience wild success, however, they did sell phones. Admittedly, half of the 6 designs that Intel was shipping were actually Intel reference designed San Diego platform phones, but they still sold. The interesting thing is that Intel did not sell these devices in the US, but rather places like India and Europe. With the introduction of the Motorola Razer-i they finally were able to match themselves up with a major smartphone manufacturer and to have an Intel phone available in the US.
Intel showed that they could sell phones, even if they were designed by Intel and then manufactured and sold by others. Nonetheless, they’re doing their best to make strides in the smartphone and tablet industry, where they’ve been absent in the past.
As Intel develops their strategy, they have begun to realize that they need to build phones not just for developed markets, but also to build phones for developing markets. This way, they actually have a better chance of making market share gains in the mobile market. If they put themselves in a position to compete in a high-growth market like India or China, they are very likely to see huge volume and market share gains. Intel is going to try to compete in the emerging markets with a very minimalist dual-SIM platform called Lexington.
Intel’s Lexington platform will feature an Atom Z2420 SoC that will be paired with an Intel XMM6265 modem for high performance 3G data. Intel’s target markets for Lexington are China, India, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. All of these markets are starving for low-cost, high-function smartphones to sell to first time smartphone owners.
Intel also talked about Bay Trail, which is their successor to Clovertrail in tablets. This will be their first quadcore SoC which will be launching in towards later in the year. These SoCs are supposed to deliver incredible performance increases and to continue to make Intel competitive with the ARM SoC makers. Intel even showed off three tablets on stage that were running Bay Trail SoCs and then moved on.
After talking about smartphones and tablets Intel also talked about their CPUs and Ultrabooks. They talked about Haswell and the power consumption improvements it will have, as well as the graphical and computational performance increases it will deliver. Intel stated that they have brought down the power consumption of their Ivy Bridge chips to 7 Watts, and should be able to do the same with Haswell. This launched a new category of Intel Core processors that sits between the current mobile processors and the Atom chips.
After talking about that, they began to give more details about their new Haswell Ultrabooks and even showed off an Intel reference design which focuses on the primary aspects of a Haswell Ultrabook. This Ultrabook has a detachable display, USB 3.0 ports, a keyboard, and a touch screen. As Intel stated prior to showing this Ultrabook, all fourth generation Core-based Ultrabooks will be required to have touch and wireless display. This is in addition to all of the other requirements Intel puts on manufacturers to call their laptops Ultrabooks.
Frankly, we agree with Intel on this decision as we believe that Windows 8 is simply the wrong UI for anything that isn’t touch-enabled. We believe that Intel is doing what Microsoft couldn’t do, demand touch on devices running Windows 8. Admittedly, Intel does have some to benefit from doing this, but it also drives up the cost of devices while improving the overall experience significantly.
Oh, and during the CES press conference Intel gave out fanny packs, yes fanny packs, filled with nail polish, nail buffers, finger exercise cards, and capacative gloves. Supposedly this was intended to be an ‘Ultrabook Survival Kit’ but it came off extremely awkward for a crowd that is usually 80-90% men.