Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini, made no secret of his reaction when Stephen Elop called him last week to break the news about Nokia (NYSE: NOK) going with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) instead of MeeGo for its smartphone strategy: “I used the same [four-letter] word that Carol Bartz often uses,” he said, speaking on a panel with Bartz at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today. Nevertheless, Intel (NSDQ: INTC) has more than one iron in the fire: Otellini confirmed that we would be seeing an Intel-powered smartphone “this year.”
What does that mean, exactly? This is not about MeeGo, we think, although at this show Intel is demonstrating MeeGo tablets and other devices (to be reviewed in a separate post). Intel’s main interest is in chipsets, where it competes against Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM), Texas Instruments and more recently Nvidia, which we have heard from sources is getting ready to launch a 3GHz chip.
Intel has yet to get a deal in the smartphone chip race. Otellini said he would not announce the handset makers in advance.
In his remarks this morning, Otellini also spoke out on a number of other big issues for the mobile industry:
Open versus closed platforms: “Computing is always a technology that starts out closed. But over time people evolve, create standards that have millions of people developing and taking advantage of them. Some closed models will certainly survive beause you can optimse the experience, but in general, open wins.”
On native apps versus the web: “The concept of apps is archaic in some ways. What Carol showed [with Livestand] is a platform that’s not an app anymore but a vehicle to deliver what you want and how you want. I think the notion of selecting an app will be foreign to our kids.” [ed. note: not mine, but maybe my kids’ kids]
What’s next: “In our labs, we’ve got wireless electricity running. There won’t be any plugs. We’re up to the point where we can do a lamp, but we have to think of safety too.”
And on Nokia: “When Elop called me last week, I used the same [four-letter] word that Carol often uses.” [cue lots of laughter from the audience and Carol Bartz herself, known for her swearing.] “You change your company and people’s lives when you do these things.
“One shouldn’t do these things quickly and capriciously, but if they go in that direction you are seeing the last fully-integrated phone manufacturer [what about RIM? (NSDQ: RIMM) or Apple?] become horizontal. It is happenng very rapidly in the handset market, but that also means that you will see more innovation and competition over time.”