Intel is currently a household name in home computing. It is the current king in the industry of personal computing. To those of you who is yet to be acquainted with Intel Corp. it is the largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. Every household with a PC is likely to have an Intel chip inside their personal computing device in one way or another. They are probably best known currently for their i3, i5, and i7 Core processors. It is also the highest valued semiconductor brand out there currently too at $129.22 billion (RM434.29 billion). Its success was mainly due to the rise of personal computing and partly due to Windows as well. Before Windows, Apple designs and makes their own chips which are less customisable and accessible by consumers. Windows made it possible for Intel to produce semiconductors in the scale that made it a major player. It is also the inventor of the x86 computing format, the microprocessors we find on our Personal Computers normally. The giant has been on top for a while now but is now struggling to a new competition. Not in exactly the same industry but close enough.
The rise of personal computing in the form of handheld devices probably started about five years ago. This was a revolution and trend that was started by the first ever Apple iPhone. It changed the way people interact with small personal handhelds. Mobile phones becomes personal tools to storing photos, music, documents, and they become personal we browsers. The evolution of Android brought us closer to a future of handhelds being as powerful and our personal computers if not more powerful. Android devices show us that small handheld devices are the way forward for personal computing. In certain countries smartphone adoption and penetration far exceeds the adoption of the personal computer, that is where manufacturers like Intel is losing out. The household name everyone is currently talking about when it comes to mobile processors are Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm. All three are in contention to gain the top spot; especially Qualcomm and Samsung. With Android’s rampage, Qualcomm looks to have a very promising future. There are also plenty of new entrants and definitely competition in the mobile computing field. With all the statistics they all show one worrying trend for Intel; their industry, the personal computing industry is slowly crumbling to its knees to handheld smartphones. The introduction of Android and Apple tablets did more damage as they are seen as replacements for the formidable notebook computer. Their reign is coming to an end if they do not do something about it.
Intel corporation definitely understands that they need to evolve in order to stay in business and on top of the industry of microprocessor making. So they took a plunge into mobile computing. Using their slightly older Atom platform, they are able to outfit a few budget smartphones and some tablets in the market out there. The likes of Asus took a plunge with them too outfitting some of their devices with Intel Atom processors. The only issue there is that Android was not designed to be optimised for an Android device. It was originally designed to power netbooks, which Intel thought was they future; they were wrong and the term ‘netbook’ was not heard of ever again. Plus Atom was designed originally as a dual core processor where as plenty of standard smartphones nowadays comes with quad core processors. Despite the setbacks Intel proved to still be king of microprocessors. The Atom processor easily kept up with the quad core Qualcomm Snapdragons of high end devices and kept Android running super smooth at a fraction of the price. But Intel is still focused towards their Personal Computer business so the mobile processors development and expansion was always on hold and slow.
Recently though Intel announced that they will be combining the Personal Computer and Mobile business together to be run as one Intel. It is about time that Intel made this move of creating processors for both Personal Computers and Mobile devices in tandem. It lowers their developmental costs too. With mobile computing progressively becoming more powerful it is only a matter of time until competitions like Qualcomm and Samsung achieved what Intel has already achieved. So to stay on top of the game, Intel would need to progress with mobile computing in mind. That said, though Atom proved to be a success in some ways it costs Intel quite a bit as they claimed that they had to “pay special subsidies to its customers”. We assume that it means that Intel has to pay manufacturers to use their Atom processors. The merge should eliminate that factor. Developing new innovative processors has always been a thing with Intel and we believe the merge of businesses should give them that edge in the mobile processing space. We are yet to know the full road map of Intel’s future business strategy but we suspect that one is already up and will be revealed sooner or later next year onward.