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Intel buys wireless chip tech in mobile-phone push
Phone chips need to sip power instead of guzzle it, and even Intel’s energy-efficient designs are criticized as too power-hungry for today’s smart phones. Phone makers need to make awkward contortions, such as building bigger devices, to accommodate the need for a bigger battery _ which most are loath to do.
With an annual research-and-development budget of nearly $6 billion, Intel is equipped to pour incredible resources into essentially any chip project it chooses. After its exit from the mobile-phone chip market in 2006, it focused on other types of communications technologies. Buying its way back into the market is the fastest way for the company to make up for lost time.
David Perlmutter, an Intel executive vice president, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the decision to sell the mobile-chip business in 2006 was “the right decision at the time,” and that Intel is buying a more complete lineup of technologies from Infineon than those available in the business it sold.
“I hope that we’ve learned our lessons and that we’re way more focused,” he said.
It would get a running start in a market dominated by Qualcomm Inc., Texas Instruments Inc. and STMicroelectronics, which together own about half the total market for processors and other communications chips for cell phones, according to Gartner Inc.
Analyst Tristan Gerra with Robert W. Baird & Co. warned that the deal might be “too little, too late” for Intel’s push into smart phones, and he said that Intel will have to invest heavily to keep Infineon’s products competitive with the rollout of the next-generation cellular networks known as 4G.
Gerra noted that the mobile-phone business moves faster than the PC business.
“Whether a PC company such as Intel can move nimbly given more rapid new product cycles within the mobile-phone industry remains a significant question mark,” he said.
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