Computer-Chip Ruler Intel Ventures Deeper into Mobile Domain

Amid the frenzy over e-readers, 3-D TVs and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas one must take careful note of an announcement from Intel (INTC) CEO Paul Ottelini (pictured) about the chip giant's imminent entry into the mobile market.%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%% Ottelini demonstrated a smartphone based on the company's upcoming Moorestown platform for mobile devices. The GW990 smartphone, manufactured by LG Electronics, will be shipped during the second half of the year, Otellini said in his keynote speech on Thursday.

Intel has ruled the computer-chip space, with more than 80% of PC processors, but it has gradually moved to faster-growing markets for TVs and mobile devices over the last year. Now, with the gradual blurring of boundaries between a computer and a smartphone, it has clearly seen the opening.

"Computing is no longer confined to your computer -- it's everywhere," Otellini said. "Advances in connectivity, intuitive user interfaces, immersive content and computer-chip performance have allowed computing to move into new areas."

This is no doubt an area of great opportunity -- the number of phones being used to access the Web will exceed 1 billion by 2013, according to research groups -- but will it be a case of too little too late?

Competitors like Qualcomm (QCOM), Marvell Technology Group (MRVL) and Freescale Semiconductor have already taken a lead in making chips for devices other than PCs. They appear to want to grab market share by exploiting the market for portable wireless devices.

Questions are bound to be raised over the technological viability of Intel's decision. Is it better to customize PC chips to use in e-readers, tablets and handheld computers or simply rely on smartphone technology? There have already been questions raised over whether a PC-based chip would be able to generate the optimal speed and power for a smartphone.

An on-stage demonstration eased those fears somewhat. The Moorestown platform, on which the smartphone works, draws up to half the power when active and up to 50 times less power when idle, the company said.

"It's smaller, faster and better than anything we've done before," Otellini said of the Moorestown platform.

Intel rose 23 cents to $20.83 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading on Friday. The shares climbed 39 percent last year.
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