According to NPD In-Stat, Apple is set to surpass Intel this year as the top seller of mobile processors used in laptops, smartphones, and tablets due to the roaring success of its iPads and iPhones.
Although Intel's x86-based chips takes up the biggest share of the notebook PC market presently, laptops simply represent a portion of the mobile processor market.
In addition to the smartphones and tablets that generally sport ARM-based chips like Apple's new A5X (pictured), Intel and fellow x86 vendor Advanced Micro Devices also have to contend with makers of ARM processors that power ereaders, handheld game consoles, and portable media players.
Intel has given word that it will refurbish and push into the handheld device market with its next-gen Atom SoC (System-on-a-Chip), codenamed Medfield. It is also working together with Google to enable and optimize further versions of Android for Intel's family of processors. Being "a first class citizen" of Android, Intel claimed that it is able to offer a superior user experience on tablets and smartphones running on its processors.
Unlike previous generations of Atom chips, Medfield can run Google's Android mobile operating system and Intel believes improvements in power consumption can position the SoC to compete with ultra low-power ARM-based application processors used in handheld devices that require the sort of battery life that equivalent x86 chips have yet to deliver.
To enable its partners to push out devices faster into the market, Intel built its own smartphone reference design which can be adapted or be used as it is. The first wave of Intel-based Android smartphones and tablets is expected to arrive in the first half of 2012. The first device, the Lenovo K800 smartphone, will be available in China within the next three months and Motorola's Medfield-based smartphone will arrive in Q2 2012.
Intel's main rival, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) also stated its intentions to enter the space with its tablet plans for 2012 - 2013. Its first tablet accelerated processing unit (APU), codenamed Hondo, will debut on Windows 8 tablets in the coming months. Hondo's successor, Temash, is currently in the works for a launch in 2013.
In view of the slow market entry of Intel-powered devices into the ARM-dominated smartphone and tablet markets, NPD In-Stat suggests that Apple and other ARM chip makers will continue to be in the lead this year.
Source: PC Mag