Apple sold over 500,000 iPads in its first week, but that trend doesn't have execs at Intel convinced that the iPad is at all ushering in a new era of tablet computing. Speaking to the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, David Perlmutter, co-general manager of Intel's Architecture Group, seemed a bit down about the whole touch-based computing thing. "These new categories are hard to predict," he said, and then went on to talk about how well netbooks were doing.
What has us confused about this negative sentiment isn't the fact that Intel downplayed the tablet market - after all, its chips aren't present in a good many of the tablets emerging now on the market. It's that they came at the same time as a rather important announcement from the chip giant: Intel has ported Google's Android operating system to its Atom microprocessor.
Intel: Jury's Still Out on Tablets
an IDG News report, Justin Rattner, head of Intel Labs, also had this to say:Perlmutter wasn't the only Intel exec to downplay the tablet upsurge. According to
"The jury is still out" on tablets. Although he conceded that the new round of slate computers "probably has some legs," he also reminded everyone that, "this is by no means the first attempt at tablets." It's more of a "third epoch," he said.
While that may be true, comparing ye ol' tablets of days yore to the iPad and its offspring - the Android-based tablets, the JooJoo, the rumored Chrome OS tablets, the WePad, etc. - seems a bit ridiculous. Technology has evolved so much since the first tablets launched years ago. No longer are these clunky, heavy behemoths that require pen-based input, have batteries that barely last for a few hours, or run so hot that they get uncomfortable in your lap.
Plus, doesn't the upcoming HP Slate have Intel inside? According to a leaked spec sheet, it does. HP's first entry into this new tablet era includes Intel's integrated UMA graphics, and sports a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Menlow Z530 processor - a chip that actually beats the iPad's custom ARM A4 1 GHz in clockspeed. Maybe the Intel execs could have mentioned something like that instead?
Intel Ports Android to Atom
What's even more odd about these negative remarks is that they were made at the same conference where Intel announced it had ported Google's Android OS to its Atom chips. According to Renee James, SVP and general manager of Intel's software and services group, the company has Android running on Atom-based smartphones and already has some customers interested in it. "Intel is enabling all OSes for Atom phones," James is quoted as saying in PC World. The move is important for the company since currently most Android phones use ARM processors.
Of course, Android is also a popular choice for many tablet computers - which is why the execs' remarks seem so out of place. Shouldn't Intel be promoting how Atom chips could run on tablets, too?
It's worth nothing that Intel isn't the first to get Android onto the Atom chip. Acer, for example, ported Android to netbooks last year. And MIPS ported Android to run on set-top boxes, digital TVs, mobile Internet devices (MIDs), mobile handsets, home media players and VoIP systems.
Image credit on original post: FoneHome.