Intel (s INTC) is beginning their push into the smartphone market with a partner announcement out of Mobile World Congress today. LG Electronics plans have a MID with voice capability available in 2010; The device will run on Intel’s next Atom platform called Moorestown and offer 3G and other wireless connectivity through Ericsson hardware. According to the press release (full release follows):
“LG and Intel’s common goal is to unleash rich Internet experiences across a range of mobile devices while delivering the functionality of today’s high-end smart phones.”
A handful of years ago, Windows Mobile (s msft) and BlackBerry (s rimm) handsets were picking up steam and there was an Intel chip in near every one of them. In 2006, Intel looked into their crystal ball and saw an alternative future: One that wasn’t based on the ARM platform used by their XScale handset CPUs. That’s when they sold their mobile phone processor business for $600m to Marvell.
Fast-forward to present day and Intel is churning out Atom chips as fast as they can due to the hot netbook market. It’s so hot that Intel recently flip-flopped strategies on their Moblin mobile Linux operating system efforts. Instead of the MID version first, they switched over to release the alpha version of Moblin for netbooks. At that time, Intel said they were still on track to release Moblin v.2, which would correspond with Moorestown hardware some time in 2010. Interestingly, the time frame quote I copied from the Moblin site last month was pulled from the Moblin Project page.
We likely have a year to 18 months before seeing such a product on the shelves, which gives plenty of time to ponder a few things. How will the Moblin MID environment and interface compare to that of other already established consumer devices? Can Moblin compete against Windows Mobile, Mac OS X, Android, BlackBerry, S60 and the upcoming WebOS? Does the world need an x86 CPU in handheld phones when ARM units dominate? Or will Moorestown offer enough benefits over ARM platforms that current handheld systems port over to x86? I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have a Magic 8 Ball. It says “Try Again Later,” which seems to be exactly what Intel has been doing since that sale in 2006.
LG Electronics, Intel Collaborate on Future Mobile Internet Devices
– LG’s Focus on Data and Voice Devices Complements Existing Strong Relationship
Around Notebooks and Netbooks –
MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, Barcelona, Spain – Feb. 16, 2009 – LG Electronics (LG) and Intel Corporation today announced a collaboration around mobile Internet devices (MIDs) based on Intel’s next-generation MID hardware platform, codenamed “Moorestown,” and Linux-based Moblin v2.0 software platform. The LG device is expected to be one of the first Moorestown designs to market.
LG and Intel’s common goal is to unleash rich Internet experiences across a range of mobile devices while delivering the functionality of today’s high-end smart phones. The collaboration on the new design extends a close working relationship the two companies have enjoyed across their respective mobile product lines, which now spans the notebook, netbook and MID categories.
“The MID segment will drive growth at LG Electronics. We chose Intel’s next-generation Moorestown platform and Moblin-based OS to pursue this segment because of the high performance and Internet compatibility this brings to our service provider customers,” said Jung Jun Lee, executive vice president of LG Electronics and head of its mobile communications business division. “The collaboration with Intel on the MID platform has been valuable and further extends our longstanding relationship. Our efforts are well on track and we look forward to bringing the MID to market.”
LG launched a netbook, based on the Intel® Atom™ processor, in the fourth quarter of 2008, and has been supplying the mobile companion device to carriers and retailers worldwide. LG also continues to ship notebooks based on the Intel® Core™ processor.
MIDs represent an emerging growth category in the industry and are designed to bring a rich, interactive, PC-like Internet experience in pocketable devices. The experience on a MID will help usher in the many new Internet trends performed predominantly on a PC to mobile devices.
“Moorestown” is the codename for Intel’s second-generation MID platform, which consists of a System on Chip (codenamed “Lincroft”) that integrates a 45nm Intel® Atom™ processor core, graphics, video and memory controller. The platform also includes an input/output (I/O) hub, codenamed “Langwell,” that includes a range of I/O blocks and supports wireless solutions.
Intel’s “Moorestown”-based MIDs are expected to reduce idle power consumption by a factor of greater than 10 versus today’s Intel Atom processor-based MIDs. Additionally, the Moorestown platform will be accompanied by a newer Moblin software version, Moblin v2.0, that is based on the Linux operating system. This software is designed specifically to deliver a great PC-like Internet experience while also supporting cell phone voice capabilities. The “Moorestown” platform is expected to come to market by 2010.
“LG Electronics makes some of the most innovative computers and smartphones in the world, and is known to be a leading-edge player in every market segment they serve,” said Anand Chandrasekher, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager of the company’s Ultra Mobility Group. “We look forward to providing them some fantastic Intel products that will deliver the best Internet experience while dramatically reducing power –contributing to the development of ultra sleek devices that offer superb battery life.”
In order to offer a variety of network connections and Internet access, LG is also working with Ericsson (s eric) to bring 3G network capability to its planned MID. This is an extension of the existing collaboration between the companies. LG has been supplying notebooks and netbooks with mobile broadband modules from Ericsson since the third quarter of 2008.
“We are glad that LG Electronics has chosen Ericsson to provide 3G capabilities in its Intel-based MID. We are working with LG and Intel to deliver industry-leading 3G capabilities on the Moorestown MID,” said Mats Norin, vice president and head of Ericsson’s Mobile Broadband Modules. “Ericsson’s unparalleled relationships with global service providers will be instrumental as we define plans with LG to take this MID to market across multiple geographies around the world.”