Intel: Chips will be in smartphones in early 2012

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said the company's Atom-based Medfield chipset for smartphones will ship in products early next year--comments that appear to represent a slight delay based on Otellini's earlier indications that Intel's silicon would be incorporated into smartphones this year.

"We plan to have Medfield phones in the market early next year," Otellini said at the company's annual investor conference.

Intel has been working for years to improve the power requirements of its chips to better compete with mobile chipsets based off power-friendly architecture from ARM Holdings, which licenses its designs to Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Nvidia, Samsung and Texas Instruments and others. Otellini had said in February at the Mobile World Congress trade show that Medfield chips would be in smartphones later this year. Also, in December he said the company's silicon would be in "smartphones from premier-branded vendors in the marketplace in the second half of 2011."

An Intel spokeswoman, Claudine Mangano, said Medfield as a product is healthy, on track and already sampling with customers.

"With the recent loss of Nokia (NYSE:NOK) as a strategic partner we have redirected our resources. In addition, phones typically take longer due to network interoperability testing and software integration," she told FierceWireless. "We are working with a number of different handset OEMs and wireless operators and we have multiple designs in the pipeline and expect to have phones in the market early next year."

Intel's mobile ambitions took a hit when Nokia earlier this year shifted emphasis away from MeeGo, which it had jointly developed with Intel, to focus on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 7 smartphone platform. "That was, in hindsight, perhaps the wrong partner to have picked," Otellini acknowledged. 

The Intel chief said the company is on track for 35 tablet design wins in both MeeGo and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Mangano said Intel's Oak Trail chipset for tablets is currently shipping to customers now. "We expect to see more than 35 tablets on shelves starting later this month and through rest of 2011," she said. However, some analysts were concerned by the relative lack of progress out of Intel.

"It's a little disappointing ... because I thought they would be farther along than they are now," Mike Feibus, principal analyst at TechKnowledge Strategies, told Cnet. "Part of it may be that Intel has swung too far to the other side of the pendulum. In 2010, the company overpromised and took it on the chin. Now they may be a little overcautious as a result."

For more:
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this Forbes article
- see this Cnet article
- see this Business Insider article

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Article updated May 18 with comments from Intel.