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MWC 2012 Update – Intel Gets Deeper Inside Mobile

Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor company, chose Mobile World Congress to announce a string of new partnerships for the Medfield platform, aimed at the mobile device market.

In addition to Orange, which unveiled Europe’s first Intel-powered smartphone on Monday using the Atom Z2460 chip, Otellini announced deals with Visa and ZTE in a press conference held Monday evening. Lava International, a young handset company targeting the fast-growing Indian market, is also to use Intel Atom processors for its first move into smartphones.

The pulling power of Otellini was on display as top executives from the US chip giant’s latest partners joined the Intel chief on stage. John Partridge, President of Visa, spoke of a “multi-year strategic alliance” with Intel. The first phase of that alliance includes the certification of Intel’s Smartphone Reference Device (powered by the Atom processor Z2460) for use with payWave, Visa’s mobile payment technology. It means OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) delivering NFC-enabled smartphones can more easily support payWave.

He Shiyou, Executive Vice President and Head of the Terminal Division at ZTE, said the Chinese supplier would launch its first Intel-powered smartphone during H2 2012. Vishal Shegal, co-founder and director at Lava International, a small feature-phone manufacturer, said the company would introduce an Intel Inside smartphone into the Indian market during the early part of Q2 2012.

“We’re taking our legacy of computing and bringing the best of it into smartphones,” said Otellini. The Intel chief pointed to benchmark testing that showed Atom processors, in mobile devices, outperforming rivals in browsing speed, graphics and energy consumption. “We take battery life seriously,” stressed Otellini.

The partnership announcements in Barcelona come only weeks after Intel unveiled multi-year strategic alliances with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo, a Chinese PC maker. The Lenovo K800 smartphone, using Medfield, is scheduled for launch by China Unicom during Q2 2012.

As demand flattens in Intel’s traditional PC market, the US chip giant is desperate to gain market share in the fast-growing smartphone business. And according to Otellini, the company is making large strides in that direction. “Our rate of improvement in smartphone silicon technology is double Moore’s Law,” he says.

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