After surveying the mobile segment for many years, Intel has finally decided to take the plunge and enter the tablet and smartphone segment with their brand new Medfield System on a Chip (SoC). While Intel has always been about pushing the limits of what’s possible on the hardware front, since that’s what they do best; they seemed to be taking a slightly different approach when it came to their new mobile devices. In order to succeed in this cut-throat industry, the hardware giant is banking heavily on the success of Google Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich Operating System. We get this from Intel’s CEO, Paul Otellini’s comment, “The thing is, tablets are a little bit about hardware and an awful lot about software,” he said. “And I think that until you get to Ice Cream Sandwich, the offering isn't as powerful as what's out there with Apple.”
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Intel believes that when it comes to tablets and mobile devices, it’s not so much as the hardware, but the software that really differentiates a good product from a great one, and they are quite right. Take the longest standing example if you will, Apple. Right from their first iPhone to the iPad and other subsequent products, their choice of hardware components has never been the ‘best in the market’, but still, they managed to offer a user experience that’s unrivaled till today and that primarily due to the OS. Intel has realized that and have chosen to enter the mobile space now, because they believe Android has matured enough over the years and is finally ready to go toe-to-toe with iOS. Intel may have joined the party late, but going by the performance delivered by their prototype devices at CES 2012, it doesn’t seem they are too far behind ARM. Also, if Ice Cream Sandwich is truly better optimized for a multi-core architecture then the hardware really shouldn’t matter all that much. We can actually learn a lesson or two from Nokia here. Take a look at their Symbian Anna and Belle phones; most of them are powered by a 650MHz processor, but still, they can easily handle 720p video with ease. For Gingerbread, you need a minimum of 1GHz for smooth 720p playback, which is proof right there that Android isn’t as optimized as it could be.
Intel’s Medfield does seem quite promising, as it will finally break the monopoly that ARM has been enjoying all along. This makes for better competition which leads to better products and more affordable products for us, so not matter how this goes, it’s a win-win situation for us.
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