* Orange adopts Intel reference smartphone
* Intel races to catch up in mobile processors
* Phone to be manufactured by Gigabyte
By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 26 The "Intel Inside"
logo on hundreds of millions of personal computers is finally
making its way onto a smartphone.
France Telecom's mobile unit Orange will launch a smartphone
in France and the United Kingdom this summer designed by Intel
and using its newest processor.
While the handset will be branded by Orange, its back cover
will also boast the Intel swirl that consumers have come to
expect to see on PCs over the past two decades.
That's a major milestone for Intel, whose chips are the
brains in 80 percent of the world's laptops and desktop
computers but power virtually no smartphones or tablets to date.
With PC sales flagging in the United States and Europe,
nearly all smartphones and tablets, including Apple Inc's
iPhones and iPads, use energy-efficient processors
based on technology licensed to chip designers by Britain's ARM
Holdings and made by Intel rivals like Samsung
Electronics and Qualcomm Inc.
The new smartphone will run Google's Android
platform and be among others that Orange sells under its own
Aimed at Orange's entry level, pay-as-you-go clients, the
phone is a copy of a reference handset Intel created to showcase
its newest mobile chip to potential customers, with features
like high-definition video and an 8-megapixel camera.
"This is a really big deal for us," Mike Bell, who co-heads
Intel's mobile and wireless business and who is responsible for
creating the reference phone, told Reuters. "It's phenomenal
that Orange has asked us to participate and put our Intel logo
on the back."
Orange has hired Taiwanese hardware company Gigabyte
to manufacture the phones and is adding its own flavor
by installing additional proprietary software.
With Wall Street concerned Intel is being left behind in the
mobile market, the Santa Clara, California chipmaker has been
pouring resources into improving its offerings for smartphones
and tablets. Previous attempts fell flat but Intel says its
newest mobile processor, codenamed Medfield, stands up to
rivals' chips in power efficiency and performance.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month,
Intel impressed technophiles with demonstrations of its
reference smartphone and said Motorola Mobility and
Lenovo have picked Medfield for upcoming handsets.
Intel launched its "Intel Inside" brand campaign in 1991,
and its success at making customers loyal to a particular
component in PCs, known as ingredient branding, defied many
expectations at the time and has since become a case study.