Not a Bad Half Start for Intel

Intel’s Atom Gets a Boost to Start in 2H14

ZenFone5_lThe second half of 2014 starts with some positive developments for Intel.

Last week, Asus started sales of its Atom-based ZenFone series of Android smartphones in India. The ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 6 are all dual-SIM devices — an essential feature for many Indian consumers. The low-cost ZenFone 4, priced at 6,000 rupees ($100), appears to be selling well based on early numbers from online retailer Flipkart. The ZenFone 5 (from 10,000 rupees, or $165) and the ZenFone 6 (17,000 rupees, or $284) are priced competitively with other popular smartphones in the Indian market. Asus started selling the smartphones in India a few days before Xiaomi’s sales launch, which begins tomorrow.

Asus CEO, Jerry Shen, said he expects smartphones and tablets to contribute half the company’s revenue by 2017 as PC sales flatten. Last year, about 20 percent of revenue came from mobile devices. The company said that it plans to ship between 5 million and 10 million smartphones in 2014, a substantial jump from its 1.5 million in 2013. Asus has also set ambitious goals to double smartphone volumes in 2015 and again in 2016.

This need for Asus to grow smartphone and tablet sales could provide Intel with its largest smartphone chipset sales boost to date. Asus’s volume objectives appear unrealistic, but the company’s entry into developing markets in Asia with these competitively-priced smartphones should provide it with a foundation.

Acer unveiled a new Chromebook model last week, running on an Intel Core i3 Haswell processor. It’s not the first Chromebook to use an Intel chipset, but is the first to use the i3 — other Acer Chromebooks run on Celeron processors. With prices starting at $350, the i3 is expected to improve performance of Google’s Chrome OS and should make it the most competitive Chromebook to date.

Intel will report its quarterly results tomorrow, and we expect to hear more about such recent market developments. Early reviews of Atom-based ZenFones suggest that Intel could find itself inside a few top-selling smartphones in some major growth markets.