CES 2012: Intel reveals smartphone strategy, Motorola partnership

Intel's chief argues that we've shifted from focusing on the personal computer to personal computing -- meaning the devices themselves don't matter as much anymore.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- The Ultrabook has taken over CES 2012, but CEO Paul Otellini surprised keynote audience goers on Tuesday afternoon by starting off promoting Intel's strong new focus on smartphones.

See also: CES 2012: ZDNet’s news and product coverageCES 2012: CNET’s news and product coverage

Otellini affirmed simply that "the best of Intel computing is coming smartphones."

Another surprise was the sudden announcement of Intel's new multi-year partnership with Motorola to integrate Intel's architecture on Motorola's devices. That certainly came across as curious considering the timing of Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha's comments calling for fewer Android phones on the market.

However, all other details about the budding relationship were kept secret.

To understand why Intel is finally getting serious about smartphones, Otellini started off by basing the interest in smartphones upon a bigger picture: that consumers have gone from being more concerned with "the personal computer to personal computing."

He also outlined four factors (engaging, consistent, aware, and secure) upon which Intel is recognizing and reacting to this shift.

Otellini advertised that Intel is building new products around these four attributes in order to bring "fuller richer experiences to consumers all around the world," and that Intel is building these experiences upon Moore's Law regarding the exponential change of chip transistors over change.

Nevertheless, Otellini still made the case that devices themselves are less relevant as consumers (Of course, obviously the devices must matter to Intel if it is tackling the responsibility of building their architectures.)

Yet, phones have really evolved in the same way. It used to be up until the last 10 years that the phone's only purpose was to make phone calls. Now, Otellini noted that only 10 percent of mobile device activity are phone calls, while everything else is web browsing and "playing Angry Birds." (You can't escape a press conference at CES that doesn't name drop this game anymore.)

The telephone's purpose and functionality have changed as Otellini described that it is in human nature "to innovate," and it is "that kind of spirit that put a man on the moon."

To further drum this in, Otellini remarked that today your smartphone has more computing power than all of NASA in 1969.

But Otellini explained that "when Intel thinks about mobile phones," it's really thinking about "another computing platform."

Some people would argue that it's about time as Intel has missed the boat in this realm -- even if Intel's telephony solutions have shipped in more than 400 million devices worldwide.

But before you wait to upgrade your Android phone (yes, this is where Intel will be focusing its efforts), you should calm down as Intel starting in China, the world's largest smartphone market.

Lenovo senior vice president Liu Jun introduced the Lenovo K800 smartphone, the world's first smartphone based on Intel's architecture, which draw quite a loud applause from the keynote crowd.

Running on an unspecified Intel Atom processor, the K800 will run on Intel's new Reference Design, which is touted to be more energy efficient, and it will incorporate security features courtesy of Intel-acquired McAfee.

Other nitty-gritty specs of the 10mm-thin handheld include an 8-megapixel camera, NFC technology for mobile payments, and eight hours of 3G talk time.

The K800 is slotted to start shipping in China during the second quarter of 2012.


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