Intel says it’s pushing ahead with mobile wins

The “value proposition” of the Intel Architecture on mobile has been proven, says Intel’s David McCloskey.

Intel Atom and Chipset Intel says it’s pushing ahead with mobile wins

A few weeks ago the story broke that Asus was going with Qualcomm as the SoC partner for the next generation of ZenFones. While there are a number of possibilities of why Asus went with Qualcomm’s chips for the next ZenFone, the most likely, and obvious one, is that Intel doesn’t have a 4G LTE solution on the market yet and any phone launching without support for 4G LTE would feel ancient when compared to the competition.

McCloskey VRZone 1 200x300 Intel says it’s pushing ahead with mobile wins

Intel’s David McCloskey

But Intel’s David McCloskey, the company’s Asia Pacific and Japan director of product marketing and business operations, says this shouldn’t be confused with a loss of confidence in the Intel Architecture in the mobile space as a whole.

“Our progress up to this year has been proving the value proposition of the [Intel Architecture] in the mobile space,” McCloskey said in an interview with VR-Zone.  “Debunking things about its battery life, thermals, performance, and I think when you look at devices even through today — especially devices over the past year — things like Lenovo’s K900 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3, we’ve been able to demonstrate a value proposition of IA performance across a variety of OSes in a lot of different form factors.”

McCloskey was quite eager to also debunk the idea that Intel was simply buying wins with its aggressive contra revenue program, and the idea that business — particularly from new entrants in the mobile space — would shift to ARM after they got a sufficient fill of deeply discounted free chips. “If [wins] were just about contra revenue, then the second the checks stop the business goes where it wants to go,” he said.

Intel’s mobile chips can compete on technical merit alone, McCloskey explained, and the contra revenue funds are simply investments to “unleash the value of the platform.”

“We’re most excited when we can go and compete on the merits of performance — because that’s our bread and butter. It’s great to see that most of the external discussion is no longer around ‘hey there’s no battery life here, or it’s thick and ugly’ we’re driving some of the most interesting designs, we’re leading on battery life and performance in a lot of cases,” he continued.

McCloskey admitted that while Intel was making progress and “learned a lot of what it takes to be successful” in the mobile business, it still has a lot of catching up to do to even begin to create a mature ecosystem.

“Our competitors — the ARM based vendors — have a much better developed [ecosystem] with much better flexibility in their platform components. We’re spending a lot of time working with the China and Taiwan ecosystems to get similar levels of flexibility,” he said.

With Intel’s mobile efforts, the elephant in the room is the lack of the integrated connectivity. Arguably this is one of the big factors that’s currently separating it from the mature ARM-based alternatives in the mobile ecosystem, and the barrier to hardware wins.

Once Intel’s Project SoFIA comes online, first with 3G and in 2015 with 4G LTE, Intel should have an easier time convincing smartphone and tablet vendors to get onboard. When SoFIA does launch Intel will still be late to the game with a full fledged processor and modem solution, but it will be on a more competitive footing with major ARM vendors. Perhaps then we will see the hardware wins roll in.

Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.