Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

Is Intel Gunning For the iPhone?

Many devices have been labelled "iPhone killer"—the BlackBerry Storm and T-Mobile G1 among them. And now, even Intel has its sights on bettering Apple's all-in-one media player smartphone?

"iPhone killer" is a description that indicates exactly how high above the competition the iPhone rules. You could almost call it a Black Swan, since it arrived suddenly and overturned the existing cellphone market in one stroke—it's simply the most sleekly converged device, and the "best" in many consumer's eyes. That's where "killer" comes from, with other cellphone makers having their eye on that same throne.

And according to a rumor at Valleywag, Intel recently called a "brain-drain" conference to come up with a plan to usurp the iPhone. It was an invite-only event, and members included a Disney wireless executive, MySpace's mobile head John Faith, and computer scientist Alan Kay. Many other "greybeards" were apparently present. The intention? To kickstart development of "a new mobile device based on Intel technology that the chipmaker hopes to have on the market this year." The phone would run Android as an OS, and have an extensive suite of sensors—similar to, or bettering the chips the iPhone has.

Valleywag also points out that Intel's inspiration may be Apple's purchase of chip-maker PA Semi last year: A move that suggests Apple will internally source components for next-gen iPhones, rather than buying Intel products. While that's far-fetched, since the design and incorporation of Apple chips would take years, it demonstrates a point—Intel wants its chips in a bigger share of the smartphone market.

But is this rumor true? Valleywag believes the meeting took place. And there's no reason to think it didn't. In fact a similar meeting probably took place in the offices of Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, HTC, RIM...and every other smartphone maker since the iPhone arrived. It's good business practice to keep tabs on competition, particularly when a device is a runaway success.

If the meeting took place at Intel, we know for sure that's one company with enough cash, technology, research and development facilities, as well aaccess to manufacturing lines to actually put together its own "iPhone Killer" in fairly short order.

But that doesn't mean it's going to. Intel's executives will also have looked at the global economy, the downturn in consumer spending, news that cellphone giant Nokia is cutting production, and rival "iPhone killer" cellphones already on the way from the other big names—not least the rumored Google Android G2 device. With all that riding against a new entry into the super-smartphone market, it'd be an enormous surprise if Intel seriously has plans to take the project any further than a brainstorming session. Maybe some early prototypes.

With rumors and leaks of the next-gen iPhone already swirling on the Internets, any Intel smartphone would really have to be a whole new paradigm-breaker to stand a chance.

[via Valleywag]