Intel vs. ARM: Two titans' tangled fate

Intel has barely made a dent in the mobile market, while ARM has been wildly successful

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To break ARM's inertia-driven upgrade cycle and crack the mobile market, Intel needs a new product category. That may come in the form of low-cost Android handsets now being fielded by a handful of vendors. These new "starter" handsets have little to no established software ecosystem to protect; they're virgin territory, apps-wise. Android itself runs on x86 as well as ARM (or MIPS), so Intel's Bay Trail and forthcoming Cherry Trail devices might gain a toehold. An all-in-one SoC with x86 core, wireless interface, and integrated peripherals could make a good single-chip handset platform if Intel prices it aggressively enough.

At that point, history may repeat itself, as Intel sneaks up on ARM from the low end of the market. It would be an ironic twist in a long-running, high-stakes game.

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