CES 2012: Is Intel Planning To Launch Into The Smartphone Market?


Intel and LG are showcasing an Android smartphone running on an Atom chip at CES but neither will commit to marketing plans

Speculation surrounds Intel’s participation in next week’s CES show in Las Vegas. The US chip-maker could be planning to “do a Google” by issuing a smartphone under its own branding.

Both Intel and LG Electronics have said they will be joining forces at CES to demonstrate a smartphone based on Intel’s Atom “Medfield” chip running the Android operating system – but neither company will officially confirm the plans for such a product.

Room for rumours

Intel Korea’s country manager Lee Hee-sung said, “Intel’s chief executive Paul Otellini will release Intel’s first Android smartphone using our own platform at the CES.”

A “top-ranking executive” for LG told the Korean Times newspaper, “LG Electronics will produce Intel’s first Android smartphones that use Intel’s own mobile platform. The device will be shown at the CES.”

Though the LG quote makes it sound like next week could see the launch of a marketable LG smartphone, careful examination of the phrasing shows it could equally be a proof-of-concept prototype.

To confuse the issue further, the newspaper quotes a different LG executive as saying, “Personally, I doubt that LG Electronics will release phones running on Android software based on any Intel platform. It’s quite possible for LG to push Intel’s reference mobiles but with huge subsidies from Intel for promotion.”

This statement would seem to carry some weight following Intel and LG’s failed attempt at launching the LG GW990 Mobile Internet Device (MID) smartphone at CES 2010 (pictured). Powered by the Atom “Moorestown” chip, the predecessor of Medfield, the smartphone failed to reach the market.

Intel and its phone processors is in a similar predicament to Microsoft in the phone operating system market. Both were late to market and both are having a hard time battling against established players like ARM and Android respectively.

The questions being asked by CES pundits surround Intel’s aims. Several have suggested that this might be an Intel-branded product to kickstart the market in much the same way as Google seeded the market with its Nexus One phone using LG’s local adversary Samsung as the manufacturer.

Whatever the intention, the speculation adds an edge to CES.

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