At IDF 2009 Intel President (and previous Atom detractor) Paul Otellini explained that the Atom chipset was slowly metamorphosing into an SoC (System on a Chip, that is, a single chip CPU) specifically to transform from a netbook/notebook chip to a MID (Mobile Internet Device) chip. In that vein, he anticipated "a future where Intel ships more SoC cores than standard PC cores."
Otellini claimed that Intel has more than a dozen SoCs in development using as Atoms which utilize a common set of libraries and interconnect models. He has come a long way from last year, when he dismissed Atom chips as simply toys that would never compete on Intel’s bottom line with Celeron and Centrino chips….but there are those who question his vision of Atom chips spearheading a new sets of MIDs.
However, Castellano was dubious and spoke to Digitimes, saying…
"Is all that investment by Intel going to pay for itself? Just how big is the market for MID anyway? It’s all in the definition and there are varying definitions of MID. We used a more-or-less industry-wide definition in which a MID as a portable device with an always-connectable Internet or area network connectivity, a maximum display of 8-inches in the diagonal dimension, and a full day’s worth of battery life under typical usage scenarios. Guess what, the entire MID market is nearly all smartphones."
I agree completely that the top tier cellphones, such as the iPhone, Palm Pre, HTC Leo or Imagio and Motorola Cliq fulfill Intel’s original vision of a MID…small, always connected consumer devices that provide long battery life and are easy to use for basic internet and multimedia tasks. That the market feels the same is indicated by the fact that no so-called MID device has caught on, with buyers or vendors. I hold to my recent point that the most successful MID thus far has been the iPhone/iPod Touch and that is unlikely to change in the coming year.
Intel continues to try to move Atoms away from products such as netbooks where they feel it will cannibalize their higher margin notebook chips. At this point, it is like closing the barn door after the cow has escaped, caught a bus to town and maxed out your credit card on imported liquor and bulls in tight pants. The Atom chip and netbooks are currently synonymous and inseparable for tech buyers, not even Intel can change that now. Intel would be better served accepting that and finding a strategy to increase their profits from Atoms than they are by still trying to jump start a failed product niche to exile them to.
Castellano is right, many of our smartphones ARE MIDs already, but Intel isn’t ready to admit that yet. It appears that De Nile is a river that runs through Santa Clara, as well.