updated 05:40 pm EDT, Mon April 11, 2011
Intel may partner with ZTE on Atom phone
Intel is looking to push its way into the smartphone market through a deal with ZTE, a pair of sources claimed Monday. The phone was designed by Intel and would have an Atom chip but would be made by the Chinese firm for sale within its home country. Bloomberg didn't mention hardware or OS details, but it would likely use the Medfield platform.
Neither side was directly willing to confirm or deny the story. Intel spokeswoman Claudine Mangano said Intel had a "number of engagements" it couldn't talk about and didn't say whether they involved co-designed phones. ZTE's Margrete Ma said talks had happened but were currently just "discussion and cooperation on a technical basis."
Intel has tried to get a partner for a phone before and picked LG for the ill-fated ultramobile chief Chandrasekher left in what might have been a rift in philosophy between itself and its project lead. He had been a veteran of Intel but hadn't caught Intel up on phone or tablets after years of promises. It has lately taken to buying companies like Infineon and Silicon Hive to give it an artificial boost through teams experienced in areas Intel doesn't usually touch, like cellular data or mobile graphics.
Few companies have voluntarily signed up to make Intel-based phones and have largely been limited to small independents like Aava where most phone makers go elsewhere.
Without a sufficiently low-powered chip, Intel has almost always had to sit on the sidelines in the mobile market as its arch-rival ARM has a near complete monopoly on smartphones and tablets. It just on Monday shipped its first Atom for tablets roughly a year after confirming its existence.