Intel To Launch An Army Of Android Tablets This Year?

by Gaurav Kheterpal on April 18, 2011

Intel is hurt. And Microsoft holds the credit for kicking Intel where it hurts most. First, Microsoft announced that it would use ARM processors in a new, low-powered version of the Windows operating system. Then, it eloped with Nokia leaving MeeGo’s future in jeopardy. Both these moves took the world’s largest chip giant by surprise and it was left licking its wounds.

But now it seems, Intel’s had enough of Microsoft and Nokia. In a move that signals aggressive intent, the chip giant is set to announce a new plan for tablet PCs – PRC Plus, pushing an Intel/Android 3.0 platform in Q3 this year. The chip giant is reportedly working on an all new Oak Trail chipset for the tablets.

And if the rumors are to be believed, Intel looks all set to launch as many as 35 tablets housing Intel Oak Trail chips from leading OEMs like Lenovo, Samsung, Fujitsu and Motion Computing. While a few of these would run MeeGo and Windows 7, the majority would be Android tablets based on Atom, Intel’s low-powered chip for portable devices.

A report from DigiTimes suggests that Intel is even paying a subsidy of $10 per unit to tablet makers to build market share. Would that be enough to compensate for Intel’s late mover disadvantage in the tablet segment? Though Intel isn’t about to abandon Microsoft, it would be interesting to see how the latter manages to work with arch rivals Intel and ARM at the same time.

In the past, Intel has been criticized of slow decision making. This allowed ARM Holdings, which licenses processor designs and architectures, to virtually dominate the tablet market as well as the smartphone business. But Intel still had one of its closest allies by its side – Microsoft. The tide began to turn last year when Microsoft announced plans to edge away from its reliance on Intel and move to ARM architecture instead.

Intel is fast running out of partners. In a move of desperation, the chip giant said this week that it was accelerating the release of its Atom chips for tablets, breaking a traditionally long wait cycle to upgrade the low-power processors. It is reported that Intel will reward “first-tier notebook vendors” by paying them $10 for each tablet they ship with an Intel CPU. The objective is simple – lure tablet manufacturers to jump ship from ARM-based processors to Intel’s Atom processor. The chip giant says tablets built using that Atom-based chipset would begin shipping in May.

The DigiTimes report suggests Intel-based Honeycomb tablets are expected to ship in the third quarter of this year. The platform is reportedly codenamed PRC Plus and Intel is already selling aggressively to hardware makers claiming they can save on Windows licensing costs by using the open source Android operating system, and superior performance than what they would get from an ARM-based chipset.

Intel enabled the PC revolution and thereafter the Netbook revolution. Will history repeat itself in the tablet segment? Or has time finally run out for Intel? Your thoughts are welcome.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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Stunned By Nokia Withdrawal, Intel Finds Solace In Honeycomb! — TheTelecomBlog.com
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