After promising for years that the company would enter the smartphone market, Intel has apparently done so. Chief executive Paul Otellini said at a CES keynote that Intel has signed Lenovo and Motorola to contracts to use its Atom processors in smartphones.
Intel chief executive Paul Otellini and Liu Jun, a senior vice president of Lenovo, showed off the K800, an Atom powered smartphone that will debut on China Unicom during the second quarter.
Sanjay Jha, the chief executive of Motorola, also appeared on stage to announce a multi-year, multi-device partnership for Atom-powered phones that will kick off this summer.
Intel also highlighted its latest third-party ultrabooks, which are powered by its latest processor technology.
It's part of what Otellini called "a transformation that is at the intersection of technology and consumer lifestyles," Otellini said at the Consumer Electronics Show here.
"We believe that phones on an Intel architecture deliver an unprecedented cusutomer experience," Otellini said.
Intel has long struggled to produce phones based on the Atom, the architecture that the company developed to replace the StrongARM processor that it obtained from Digital Equipment Corp. about a decade ago. Although neither Jun nor Otellini specifically stated as such, the K800 is expected to be powered by Intel's Medfield, the most recent version of its Atom processor.
According to Jun, the Lenovo K800 will feature a 4.5-inch, 720p multitouch screen, capable of running the most advanced games. Te K800 also includes Wi-Di, the wireless display technology that Intel introduced last year. It will feature 45 hours of audio playback, 6 hours of video playback, 8 hours of talk time and 14 days standby. Neither Jun or Otellini specifically identified the K800 as an Android phone, but Intel's reference design is based on the technology.
"We are transforming Lenovo from a personal computer company to a personal Internet device company," Jun said.
Since the K800 will only initially be available in China, the most significant deal will most likely be the agreement with Motorola, which has made a commitment to use Intel devices. Jha called Intel a provider of the "best silicon technology and services".
Intel developed a reference design around the Medfield that includes such technologies as near-field technology, the short-range wireless and authentication platform that lies at the heart of Google Wallet, for example. An included camera can shoot images at 16 Mpixels and beyond, with frames captured at 15 frames per second.
Intel developed the "most highly optimized version of Android on the planet," Intel executive Mike Bell said. The reference version should be the most powerful smartphone platform on the planet, Otellini said, with aggressive power consumption that he called industry-leading, especially in graphics.
Ultrabooks are the Windows world's answer to the Apple MacBook Air: thin, light, sleek devices that quickly resume from sleep.
Jeff Clarke, responsible for global operations and end user computing solutions for Dell, appeared on stage during the Otellini keynote to announce the XPS 13, Dell's latest ultrabook. "It defining what this category is all about... it will set a new level of expectation. It will set a jaw dropping form factor," he said.
In the last few months, we've seen four new laptops enter the ultrabook arena: the Acer Aspire S3 ($899.99 direct, 3.5 stars), Asus Zenbook UX31-RSL8 ($1099 direct, 4 stars), Toshiba Portege Z835-P330 ($799.99 list, 3.5 stars), and Lenovo IdeaPad U300s ($1,495 list, 4 stars). These new contenders have taken on the MacBook Air 13-inch.
Intel also said it's kicking off a "multi-facted" Ultrabook marketing campaign called "A New Era in Computing" beginning in April. At CES, the company showed some of the advertising that's being developed around the campaign, which includes TV, print, and outdoor ads.
The chip giant has also created a $300 million Ultrabook Fund to help kick start the development of the fast-booting, super-thin laptop category it introduced at Computex in Taiwan last May and further promoted at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco in September. The result of all that cash and promotion is that 75 Ultrabook designs are in the pipeline for 2012, Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, said at CES.
Will.i.am, the creative director of Intel, also announced the Ultrabook Project, which will send the singer around the world for a year to collaborate with local artists and to help inner cities. In each of twelve cities, the partnerships will produce one song, sales of which will be used for charity.