Could Intel win in Tablet and Smartphones by offering protection in the patent wars?

Summary:Cross-technology licensing by large companies helped establish the PC platform and protect innovation. Could Intel do the same for tablets and smartphones?

Brooke Crothers, at CNET, reports that Intel is stepping in to help manufacturers create ultrabooks, and it has a $300 million fund to help integrate key technologies such as touch interfaces and battery technologies.

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With the goal of getting smaller PC makers to supply branded ultrabooks, Intel will hold a meeting Wednesday in Taipei as a "matchmaker" between large device manufacturers--so-called ODMs or original design manufacturers--like Foxconn, Pegatron, Compal, and Quanta and smaller brands, according to an industry source familiar with Intel's plans.

The list of prospective ultrabook brands will include companies like Epson, Onkyo, Viewsonic, Mustek, Motion Computing, WiPro, and Positivo, according to the source. While some brands, like WiPro and Positivo, are not well known, they are big players in regional markets.

Intel's help will be welcomed by smaller manufacturers and it's clearly in Intel's interest because it wants to make sure it can sell its Ivy Bridge chipset.

Intel's role as an accelerator of key technologies and products dates back to the early days of the PC.

However, as Intel tries to establish itself in the hot Tablet and cell phone markets, against the dominant ARM based chips, it has an opportunity to fulfill an important role, one which helped the PC industry move forward at a rapid rate -- protection from patent wars.

A key factor in the success of the PC platform was a determination by Intel to stop patent battles because it knew this would harm the development of the PC standard. Intel engaged in many cross-technology license agreements, and also encouraged large manufacturers to do the same.

This allowed many smaller companies to innovate without fear of antagonizing patent holders of basic PC platform technologies.

This type of cross-licensing is sorely needed in Tablet and cell phone markets where large companies are claiming patent violations against each other, and small developers are caught in the crossfire -- slowing innovation in one of the fastest growing markets.

If Intel could offer a similar level of protection to developers working on Intel platform based Tablets and cell phones, it would be a great way to recruit developers away from the ARM-based sector, where they risk being stomped by larger companies.

This could become the key to Intel's success in competing against ARM.


Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Intel, Laptops, Legal, Mobility, Tablets

About

In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to make a living as a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley.Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leadi... Full Bio

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