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ARM, Intel, Apple: It’s Mobile Week

ARM, Intel, Apple: It’s Mobile Week
by Paul McLellan on 09-14-2012 at 4:02 pm

 As Dan wrote here, we got invited by Intel to IDF and by ARM to a cheeky little party that they organized the day before. I asked ARM if they were announcing anything and they said basically that it would be foolish to make any announcement the week of their biggest competitors big show. Well, that wasn’t a rule that Apple felt like sticking too, announcing the iPhone 5 in the middle of IDF. Not that Apple and Intel are really direct competitors.

One thing that surprised me was how small the exhibition was at IDF. If you took away all the many Intel booths (and McAffee, WindRiver and other Intel subsidiaries) there is not much there. And quite a bit of it is pretty tangential. Cadence and Synopsys both had a couple of people standing around looking bored. I mean who would go to IDF to meet Cadence, for instance?

Obviously in its main microprocessor business, Intel is very strong, with a weak AMD the only competition. They announced some new lower powered processors. But that is a business that is no longer growing as fast as it did. Intel still seems to be very weak in mobile. I asked ARM if they knew of Intel Atom-based design wins and they said there were a handful, but nothing that seemed to indicate any major shift.

ARM had a lot of phones from Chinese manufacturers like Lenovo that have a price point of $75. They are obviously not as full-featured as the iPhone (which has a price point unsubsidized of more like $650, almost ten times as high). They had touch screens and apps and generally looked pretty good. One of Apple’s weaknesses is that it hasn’t yet come out with an iPhone nano at a much lower price point. Not many people in China, India, Africa are going to buy a $600 phone.

However, in Q4 I’m pretty sure that lots of people in America and Europe (and even some in China) will be buying the new iPhone 5. The 4G LTE modem really does make a big difference. My iPad3 has it already, and downloading email or surfing the web is very noticeably faster than on my iPhone which only has 3G. And I’m on AT&T so actually it is more like 3.5G I’m comparing it to, since AT&T has faster data than Verizon anyway. Oh, and if you are on Sprint or Verizon, which use CDMA, you still won’t be able to access the web and make a call simultaneously like you can on AT&T. The iPhone 5 does not contain a second antenna to access LTE (data) and CDMA (voice) at the same time. I don’t think it is that big of a deal, I’m not sure I’ve ever done it even though I can.

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