updated 12:35 pm EDT, Fri July 16, 2010
Intel gets Palm's Mike Bell for reference phones
Intel landed a win for its fledgling smartphone efforts today as it hired Palm's Senior VP of Product Development Mike Bell. The executive will now be the Director of Smartphone Product Development and will develop "breakthrough smartphone reference designs" to help get Atom-based phones on to shelves sooner. His role will involve creating a team almost from new within the Ultra Mobility Group that had previously been limited to MIDs and other larger devices.
Bell represents a significant gain for Intel, which has struggled to produce an x86 processor small and power-efficient enough to get into a smartphone and may not have one until 2011 despite the promise of the Atom Z600. The new hire was part of a wave of former Apple employees brought over to Palm in 2007 by former Apple veteran Jon Rubinstein, and had 16 years at the Mac and later iPhone producer before jumping ship. Without experienced teams, the fruits of Intel's efforts have mostly been limited to a since-discarded LG prototype and very early efforts by small firms like Aava.
In acquiring Bell, Intel has simultaneously dealt a further injury to Palm. Since being acquired by HP, it has ssen a string of high-profile defections, ranging from its key interface designer Matias Duarte to Rich Dellinger and others. Virtually all have signed on to direct competitors like Apple and Google.