The standards have yet to be written and U.S. operators are in the midst of trials, but Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says Intel is leading in 5G right now.
His comments come as a new Strategy Analytics Report finds that Intel is going all out to be a driving force in the Internet of Things (IoT), which, by most accounts, will be a key component of 5G. But it faces some big rivals there as well.
Krzanich said Intel's modem technology now is world class, and it's been able to stay either ahead of or on top of the competition or just shortly behind them in performance and characteristics. "We think that's going to be critical as we go into the 5G world," he said at the Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference 2016, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "We believe we're leaders in 5G right now, both at the base station and in the connectivity portion."
On the phone side of things, Intel has made a bunch of investments and it has started to produce silicon, but the profit is becoming very tight in that market and Intel has been careful about not getting into that market in a way that's going to erode profitability and margin, he said.
"We think 5G is going to be a big transition," he said. "We believe it allows us to work much better with our telco providers to do base station work and grow our networking silicon there. But we'll be cautious in the phone business which means -- that's why you saw us take away some of the low end phone products. This wasn't exiting mobile all together. We've still got our modem. We're very strong. But these low end phone products that we are looking at, we looked out in time and said boy, that's a market that costs are going to be very tight. I'm not sure these are going to be profitable and this is not probably good use of our shareholder value."
According to Strategy Analytics' new report, Intel is leading the IoT pack with record R&D investments, patents, partnerships and acquisitions. "Intel is bringing its 'A' game to the IoT table and that's absolutely essential since its rivals are some of the most influential vendors in the business. IoT competition is intense and cutthroat and Intel does face challenges," said Laura DiDio, Strategy Analytics director of IoT Research, in a press release.
Andrew Brown, Strategy Analytics executive director of IoT, agreed, noting that while Intel has a strong, well respected, global brand, "Intel lags behind rival Qualcomm in the mobile space and it is playing catch up to IBM in software analytics. Intel will have to come up with a viable strategy – particularly in the mobile space going forward."
Asked during the Bernstein appearance what he would do differently if he could travel back in time and handle mobile differently, Krzanich said given the ability to go back, say three years ago, everyone was worried about the tablet and "I guess if I could go back and look at it I'd say, you know what, take your beatings, you'll be right. The tablets are going to fade away and don't make the investments. I don't think any of us could have known, but sure I would have loved to have that foresight and say, yes tablets are going to die within a year and start declining 10 to 20 percent, would it have saved us a lot of efforts and all.
He added that Intel is still probably going to be the second or third biggest tablet silicon provider.
- listen to the webcast
- see this Seeking Alpha transcript
- see this Strategy Analytics release
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