ARM: Intel has tough road into mobile market

ARM exec says mobile market more complex than Intel is used to

Intel may have made a big splash this week announcing it's going to focus on the mobile market, but its rival in the space says the chip maker has an uphill climb ahead of it.

James Bruce, lead mobile strategist for ARM Limited, said in an interview that this isn't the first time Intel has said it's setting its sights on the mobile market. So for now, he's not too worried about Intel's plans.

"I think the mobile market is incredibly exciting," said Bruce. "I'd be more surprised if companies did not want to play in the mobile market.... If you look historically, they've been talking about the mobile market for quite some time now. There's been a lot of talk, but I'm waiting very much to see a device ship."

During Intel's financial analyst meeting on Monday, CEO Paul Otellini said he is refocusing the company, moving its "center" from PC processors to chips for the burgeoning mobile market. That means Intel will be trying to get a footing in a lucrative market that encompasses smartphones, tablets and netbooks.

It also means Intel is putting its considerable might and financial muscle to battle ARM chips, which dominate the mobile market.

Actually, dominate might be an understatement.

According to Bruce, ARM chips make up a whopping 95% of the cell phone and smartphone market. If you add tablets like Apple's iPad 2 into the mix, ARM would still hold about the same percentage of the mobile market, he added.

"At the moment, there are no smartphones shipping with the Atom processor," said Bruce. "Looking at handsets today, [Intel] is not a competitor because there's nothing shipping with it."

Intel would like to change that, though. And analysts have said over the past several days that they suspect Intel will be unveiling new mobile chips within a year to 18 months.

Bruce said that what matters is seeing something go into production. "I'm sure there are going to be handsets shipping at some point in the future with Atom processors," he acknowledged. "To be honest, from our perspective, proof is really very much in production."

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