Intel wants to enlist wireless carriers as partners in mobile push

Intel CEO Paul Otellini said he thinks wireless carriers could be strong potential partners to help the silicon vendor gain a stronger foothold in the mobile market.

The XOLO X900 is the first phone with Intel's chips.

In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Otellini said that carriers have shown "a lot of interest" in Intel-powered smartphones as both sides try and squeeze more profit from growing smartphone penetration rates. He said some carriers may look to use Asian vendors to build devices but sell them under their own brand name. France Telecom has already said that it will launch a "mass market" Intel-powered smartphone this summer in France and the U.K.

"The people who have the most interest in optimizing feature sets for the phones at the end of the day are the carriers who own the networks and want to get the maximum return from them," he said. "I don't think all of them have been heard from yet."

So far, Intel's push into smartphones, via its Medfield chipset, has been focused on partnerships with handset makers. Intel said in February it inked a "multi-year mobile device collaboration across smartphones and tablets" with the world's fifth largest handset maker, ZTE. Earlier this week, Indian handset maker Lava released the Intel-powered Xolo X900. The device, which packs a 1.6 GHz Medfield processor, went on sale for a "best buy street price" of around $419.

Intel earlier this year announced Lenovo and Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) as its first customers for its Atom chip for smartphones. Intel is working to displace the likes of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Texas Instruments and Nvidia in the smartphone space--firms that use low-power chipset architecture from ARM Holdings and have significant traction among the likes of Samsung, HTC and others. The ARM-based companies--and Qualcomm in particular--dominate the smartphone application processor market, even though Intel is the largest silicon vendor in the world.

Otellini did not say how much of the smartphone market he hopes the company to take control of, but indicated that his ambitions have not dimmed. "I would be disappointed if we're not a major player in a few years," he said, adding that Intel's knowledge of power management, integration of security technology and the ability to work with communications standards would help the firm. "When you list up the assets of us versus anybody else, I think we come ahead of anybody."

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

Related Articles:
Intel lands ZTE deal, outlines product roadmap through 2014
Intel notches Lenovo, Motorola as customers in its Atom expansion into mobile
Nokia, Qualcomm, Intel prep for CES gadget debuts
Intel likely prepping new Medfield-based smartphones for CES
Intel reorganizes mobile units in fresh market push