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Intel should ride the Android wave

Posted: 21 Apr 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Android? mobile software? R&D?

As if that was not a big enough problem, Intel has been trying to establish its own mobile Linux, initially as a skunkworks project it called Moblin. It snagged a troubled Nokia as a design partner willing to pool its own mobile Linux efforts in a project dubbed MeeGo.

But Nokia pulled out when its new chief executive decided a better strategy was to hitch a ride with Microsoft's efforts to establish Windows Mobile in smartphones, reportedly for a billion dollar payoff. In the wake of the Nokia news, Intel lost its smartphone chief, Anand Chandrasekher.

Smartphone strategy 3.0 for Intel
So it's time for smartphone strategy 3.0 at Intel. Rather than try to create a new processor and a new software environment, the chip giant should follow the lead of its Wind River division and ride the Android wave.

Intel need not abandon MeeGo which last year made inroads into automotive. But it needs to recognise its minor successes to date won't pave a way to cell phone victory.

It's a big job for a cruise liner like Intel to turn its strategy on a dime, but Intel has shown great flexibility in the past. And yes, there are plenty of well-established chip makers from Freescale to TI already riding Android. But it will be easier for Intel to play catch up in a growing market than to establish a whole new software platform with developers and OEMs.

Hewlett-Packard will likely go down in the history books as a case study of trying too late in the game to establish a new software platform with its WebOS in smartphones. Intel can save itself the pain of that hubris.

The days of a Wintel duopoly controlling the world's biggest system market are just about over. Smartphones are the new game in town and other people already own the software.

Intel still has a shot at being a viable processor player in that market, but it has to follow the lead of Wind River.

I will give Intel credit for letting Wind River chart its own course. In a small tip of the hat to its corporate boss, the very last word of the Wind River press release about Android said the software group also does "customization and optimization work for open source platforms such as MeeGo."

Talk about burying the lead. Even little Wind River knows which way the prevailing breezes are blowing.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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