Intel has long been the king when it comes to making high-performance chips for desktops and servers, especially when budget and power consumption are not an issue. However, the chipmaker has struggled to break into the mobile market, where ARM-based chips have dominated.
This has not gone unnoticed by those in the tech industry, including the late Steve Jobs. In the now infamous biography published shortly after his death, Jobs acknowledged that Intel is the best when it comes to high-performance chips, but not all his remarks were quite as complimentary.
"They are like a steamship, not very flexible. We're used to going pretty fast" said the founder of Apple.
Intel may not be as quick as Apple, but the firm would not be trouncing competitors such as AMD if they took forever to release products. In fact Intel is ahead of the curve when it comes manufacturing processes and performance of chipsets.
At CES in January, Intel was one of the few firms that looked as if it was moving forward. A dissapointment was the lack of major product announcements from most firms who were offered precious keynote time, especially Microsoft, which ended its run at the event with a wimper.
However, Intel stole the show with a raft of announcements, including the debut of its Medfield 1.6GHz processor for use within smartphones and tablets, and the introduction of partnerships with Lenovo and Motorola.
Judging by the demonstration of the Medfield powered smartphone given on stage, Intel is clearly confident that it can provide users with both high-performance devices and all-day battery life.
The partnerships are also likely to be key to its success in the mobile market. Although Lenovo has little pedigree in the mobile market, the firm had a phenomenal 2011 in the laptop market, overtaking Dell to become the number two PC vendor. With Lenovo launching the K800 smartphone in its home market of China, it is likely to do well.
Meanwhile, the Intel and Motorola deal is likely to help the chip maker gain a foothold in the Western market. Although not quite so popular in the UK, Motorola Droid handsets fly off the shelves in the US, and this is likely to continue when Intel-based devices roll out in the summer.
Intel is still playing catch-up in some areas, notably against Nvidia, which has already brought out the quad-core Tegra 3 chip, found in the Asus Transformer Prime. However, many applications are unable to make full use of the technology on offer.
Intel is likely to be able to catch up here and it wouldn't be surprising to see iPhones powered by its chips in the not-too-distant future.
With ultrabooks also set to take off this year, it would not be surprising to see Intel top the $54bn it made in 2011.
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