Catch full highlights and analysis of the talking points that cropped up at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen China earlier this week with Mobile Geeks, including our own exclusive footage of technology demos and presentations from the event including keynote speeches from CEO Brian Krzanich and the latest technology demos.
Breaking in to China
As attendees of the event, it was obvious that Intel this time around is clearly targeting, not specifically the domestic markets of China itself, but the multitude of device manufacturers that currently supply a massive proportion of the world’s mobile tech.
Major talking points include Intel’s forthcoming entrance to the 4G LTE market now that they have finally leveraged the Infinion purchase to create a discrete category 4 LTE solution which is shipping now, with a faster category 6 LTE-Advanced version due soon. This should finally give Intel the means to compete with Qualcomm, although we have yet to see how that will play out in terms of adoption. Intel also confirmed that these LTE solutions will also find their way into the next-gen low cost Atom SoCs by next year in a push to compete with Mediatek in the entry-level Smartphone segment.
We can also take Mediatek as an example of why Intel also announced a new turnkey foundation. The foundation promises improved support and services for customers including reference designs and development tools to greatly aid device manufacturing and component integration. The company hopes that by providing a more complete support and service package with their processor platforms, primarily with Android but also with Windows and Chrome that it can ease the transition to its x86 platform in Tablets and Smartphones, much in the same way that Mediatek has done with great success in recent years, first on feature phones, evolving eventually to today’s mobile platforms. This indicates to us that Intel, or more accurately, Intel China, has learned from the experiences of recent years and is prepared to mimic its competitors to gradually edge its way into the Tablet and Smartphone scene in Shenzhen.
We believe this is a vital step for Intel, simply because the manufacturers here in Shenzhen have all established exceptionally strong relationships with Mediatek, Rockchip and other silicon suppliers, gaining an incredibly fluid and fast moving eco-system based on highly optimized software and firmware support. Ultimately however, Intel’s new turnkey approach is more than just offering a more complete package with better software support, it’s about getting more Chinese manufacturers in a position where Intel is actually a viable option.
Overall our take away from IDF 2014 is that Intel is aggressively trying to wedge itself into the fast paced and often unpredictable world of Shenzhen manufacturing. They have a strategy and plenty of cash to back it up, but there remains still a sense of cynicism about how they can deal with the shrinking bottom line. Intel’s desire to compete in entry-level global segments seems motivated by a sense of exclusion coupled with a fear of never gaining traction in a quickly evolving, cost sensitive mobile segment. The profit margins they covet in China, while high volume, will be a fraction of what they are used to in desktop and traditional laptop segments, but Intel is well aware that the entry-level segment globally will mature, and is already talking this week about how vendors can add value with better product differentiation and exclusive Intel developed technologies.
A New Intel China Learns the Ropes
We learned in a round table meeting with Stephanie Halford,Director of Intel’s mobile business platform in China, that up until recently Intel China hadn’t been given enough autonomy to keep up with the fast paced and ever changing eco-system. Stephanie also mentioned that tablets in 2014, will reach up to 130 million units, up from 80 million a year ago. About 70 to 80 percent of those shipments will arrive in international markets, she added.
It has taken Intel 18 months to develop partnerships with approximately 13 ODMs in Shenzhen, producing 30 models using Intel platforms. By the this year’s end, Intel hopes to raise those figures to over 20 manufacturers, and 80 models. This is a good start for Intel, but considering the scale of the Chinese manufacturing hub in Shenzhen, they still remain largely a fringe player in the high volume supply chain. According to a recent BBC article there are an estimated 6,000 handset manufacturers in the Shenzhen area, so Intel certainly has plenty of work ahead if it is to have an impact.
Check out the video below, where Nicole and I chew over several issues discussed above, live from the show floor of IDF 2014.