Intel's recent acquisitions and partnerships have been designed to take it into new markets rather than strengthen its existing hands.
McAfee, Infineon Wireless and embedded software firm Wind River are all taking it in new directions.
The latest Wind River project, indeed, is laden with ironies as the company teams up with Intel rival VIA Telecom to create a low cost reference platform for Android, an OS that has remained closely tied to ARM-based processors rather than Intel's x86.
VIA and Wind River have announced a multiyear partnership to create a reference design targeted at sub-$100 (€76) Android smartphones particularly those made by Chinese vendors.
The platform will combine the Intel unit's embedded Android system with VIA's CDMA silicon and printed circuit board assembly. This will enable Chinese OEMs to make low cost Android handsets for CDMA EV-DO networks, such as those run by China Telecom, Korea Telecom, or even Verizon.
Named Kunlun, the project specifies a handset template that supports GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio, camera, keyboard, touchpad and microSD – in other words, a phone with the full 'smart' feature set, even if lacking big brand allure.
Wind River's Chris Buerger, on the company blog, hinted at another irony for Intel – that low cost Androids would primarily hurt Nokia, Intel's closest partner for high-end devices via their MeeGo venture. "S40, beware, Wind River powered Droids are coming," he posted.
OEMs should be able to sell handsets based on the components, to carriers or consumers, for less than $100 and still make a profit, the new partners said. Although the design is optimized for China, it could be adapted for any market.
Dave Carey, head of teardown analysis at UBM Tech Insights, told EETimes: "Given a typical BOM range of $90-$180 for Android stuff we've looked at recently, the idea of a $100 ASP is a leap forward. With expected improvements in silicon he can "see a BOM cost below $75 coming before long, but even at a $50 BOM, a $100 selling price doesn't leave room for a lot of profit."
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