With PC sales leveling off, Intel, Microsoft and other companies that have built enormous business around desktop and laptop computers are trying their hardest to make a dent in the newfangled mobile space… with mixed results.

Intel reported its quarterly earnings today, and while the company beat estimates, revenue dropped a bit from the same period in 2013. For the first time the company broke out figures for its mobile division… and revenue was just $156 million in the most recent quarter… and had an operating loss of $929 million.

It often takes money to make money, and part of the reason Intel could be losing money on its mobile business is because the company is heavily subsidizing its chips in an effort to get smartphone and tablet makers to use its chips. It’s too early to say whether this will continue to be a money-losing strategy, but it shows how hard Intel is working to try to take on ARM in the mobile space.

Intel Atom Merrifield

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16 replies on “Lilbits (4-15-2014): Intel’s mobile struggles”

  1. I have no problem with Intel. The Haswell / baytrail chips are awesome and ANDROID tablets with baytrail are great. However most OEMs are still putting in the older Ivy Bridge chips. The biggest problem is that Intel is still heavily in bed with Microsoft and Laptops and Desktop and those systems are floundering, plus almost all the Intel tablet chips are going into surface and surface-like devices which are also floundering. Intel needs to sever its relationship with Microsoft and just focus on making great SoC that can be used by any OEM and any OS.

  2. Most of what I keep reading about Intel’s earnings report is how it’s raised their stock prices and other good things. So it looks like Intel is doing better and it looks like it’ll continue.

  3. Intel’s situation is caused by greed and their lack of understanding of the market. The day i can buy a celeron (or decent, D525/N2800+ atom) on a tv stick for $50 pre-installed with ubuntu linux ill try it. “Intel” then, i’m hooked on the rockchip. And it influences me, in IT, and in my family, i find myself becoming an ARM advocate and keeping up with ARM technology far more than Intel as of late. It’s actually exciting. The linux repositories are awesome for ARM. You just can’t beat the price + performance.

    1. Yeah, that’s why there are almost no ARM devices being sold with any GNU/Linux distros… Truth is ARM is a very hardware fragmented market with over 80% IPs being from providers that only support closed drivers!

      Linaro engineers have been trying for most of the last decade to make ARM a easy platform to support all Linux distros but have had little success in that time…

      So sure, you can get cheap ARM devices… but mostly because ARM scales to very low end devices but most aren’t very Linux friendly out of the box, which is a problem even for Android because of the all too common need to customize for each device and is one of the contributing reasons why most don’t support updates for devices beyond 2 years and many do even less…

      Even platforms, like Allwinner A10, etc. that are stated to support Open Source don’t easily allow porting of Linux distros… at least not enough to allow everything to run properly, like getting hardware acceleration working, etc.

      Up till now, ARM only really had MIPS to compete with as well in the mobile and embedded markets, which is one of the reasons ARM has managed to dominate the mobile market… Intel has only really gotten serious about competing in the last two years and so had a lot of catching up to do for a market that has been developing for over a decade.

      While a lot of people in the Linux community hold out hope for Intel because Intel has a much better history on providing Open Source support for their hardware and now that Intel has started to return to their own GPU for at least their tablet range offerings it means it’s far more likely to start getting consistent support for those who would rather run Linux distros on their systems.

      1. The cheap arm devices are being sold with android because its a capable OS for little tv box / tablet device and supports the touch screen garbage. There is no need to bundle these with a full blown linux distro, it is much smaller target consumer base people like us. I think you make some good points up there. I just have had very good experiences with these cheap chinese rockchips and cant speak more highly of them running linux.

        1. For a tablet, sure, but a TV box is only a step away from a desktop/nettop and Android is primarily optimized for mobile usages!

          There are also far more capabilities and more powerful apps available for GNU/Linux, which are also easier to use without needing a touch screen like you would with most Android apps!

    2. For hobbyists (ie. not likely to contribute to Linux kernel development), they should be rooting for Intel more in terms of getting their Atoms and even Core chips more efficient and full featured as an SoC.

      The vast majority of ARM vendors rarely provide open source drivers. Even if they do, they don’t work to get them mainlined into the Linux kernel. They stop supporting their proprietary drivers pretty quickly as well. Then you have many of these 1+ year old ARM devices that are forever stuck on old Linux kernels and distro versions. This bad ARM situation doesn’t seem like it’ll improve in the near and far off future.

      Meanwhile, Intel has a dedicated center ( https://www.01.org/ ) for developing open source drivers and working with upstream projects to get their chips (SoCs, GPU, WiFi, wired NICs, etc.) working.

      As someone who isn’t skilled enough to write Linux kernel drivers even if the chip maker provides documentation, I’m hoping Intel can continue improving their hardware and open source software.

    3. Linux and ARM are awesome? Hahahahaha. Linux and ARM right now is like Linux and x86 in the 90’s. Not awesome at all.

      1. meh i respectfully agree with pat up there she had some good points but you on the other hand are just a lamer. My Rockchip 40$ arm stick is running picuntu, samba, minidlna,
        nzbget, gcc..I have another one running a firewall, squid proxy etc.
        it is not just awesome it is f*cking awesome. For 40$ using literally
        2watts. The system i ran this on prior was an atom D2800MT mini-itx ~
        10w (not bad).

        The arm repositories are also well stocked, i am having awesome
        experiences
        here. Listen i am no intel hater. I just enjoy getting value for my dollar. I get a
        tremendous amount of value for arm and i just see the future getting
        better and better for this platform.

  4. All that resting on their laurels is coming back on them. Here’s a crazy idea: Compete based on how good your product is and not on how much you are paying people to use it!
    Idiots

    1. Intel throwing money around to thwart a
      rival is nothing new.

      In the AMD vs. Intel battle, it was revealed
      how much Intel was paying Dell (hundreds of
      millions of dollars) to prevent Dell from using
      AMD. The joke then was that if Dell was in
      danger of missing its quarterly numbers, the
      Dell finance person would call the Intel finance
      person, and voila, a whole bunch of money
      would magically appear in Dell’s bank account.

    2. They basically are… But they’re competing in a market where the competition has the advantage of already dominating the market and having guaranteed minimum orders that ensures low unit costs… The reverse of how it’s been for Intel in the PC market…

      Until Intel gets similar market share as the even the less popular ARM manufacturers to ensure unit costs get similarly low for them then the only way for them to compete on just the value of their product is to counter the ARM cost advantage and offer their product at a competitive price to OEMs…

      This is nothing new for breaking into a new market for any company, like how MS spent billions subsidizing the costs of the XBox until it finally became profitable for them…

      So don’t confuse what’s going on now with what happened before in the PC market… Intel isn’t in a position to abuse its position in the mobile market…

      Besides, even companies like Samsung use subsidies despite their success in the mobile market…

      1. “The reverse of how it’s been for Intel in the PC market…” and the GPU market. There, fixed that for ya.

        1. Intel only has integrated graphics, they don’t offer any discrete graphics like Nvidia and AMD… They also don’t do 3rd party IPs for anyone else… So they never really had much influence in the GPU market…

          Intel also still has a way to go to fully catch up with even mobile graphic performance but they plan on getting competitive in another two updates within the next two years… Till then they’re counting on other aspects to be competitive…

          One thing they recently achieved is finally shrinking their board size for mobile devices, along with finally allowing better BOM arrangements for OEMs to be able to get parts not only from them… So, they’re actually trying to be competitive right now…

    3. Isn’t that what Intel is trying to do now? They got off their laurels and started competing. The Atom is no longer stagnating. The ULV Core chips are getting very efficient which will eventually overlap somewhat with the Atom chips.

      Of course, they’re also trying to buy their way into the market which they’ve been doing for a very very long time now. Why change that part of their strategy when it works especially when they’re not the market’s leader?

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