Analysis: Chandrasekher blamed for Intel’s mobile woes

Anand Chandrasekher, senior VP and GM of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group (UMG), has abruptly resigned to pursue “other interests.”

Predictably, Intel executive VP David Perlmutter responded to Chandrasekher’s departure by emphasizing the corporation’s continuing “commitment” to its mobile business.

“We [are making] the investments needed to ensure that the best user experience on smartphones and handhelds runs on Intel Architecture, and to ship a phone this year,” Perlmutter claimed in an official statement.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Anand for numerous contributions to Intel over his 24-year career here, and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

So, what prompted Chandrasekher’s resignation?

Well, it is certainly no secret that Intel is struggling to compete in a mobile market heavily dominated by ARM. 

As industry analyst Rob Enderle notes, the chip giant has yet to demonstrate a truly viable x86 alternative to ARM’s low-sipping RISC-based architecture.

“Intel’s efforts to get on tablets and smartphones failed to meet expectations. This is undoubtedly the most visible effort in the company at the moment,” Enderle told TG Daily.

“While to Intel, it likely appears expensive given how dominant ARM is in the targeted markets – the effort still appears to be under-resourced and it looks like Chandrasekher got the blame.”

According to Enderle, the “trigger event” may have been Nokia partnering with Microsoft, which unceremoniously left Intel and the moribund Meego alone at the altar.

Meanwhile, veteran tech journalist Mike Magee of TechEye described Chandrasekher’s position at Intel as “a hot potato of a job.”

“For some years now, the chip giant has been talking about how we’ll see smaller form factors everywhere – we are seeing a plethora of different designs.

“Unfortunately, from Intel’s point of view, many of these different designs use ARM-based microprocessors, rather than Intel chips. Design wins for phones are few – several vendors in the handset business have told me that the last thing they want is for Intel to have any dominating business in that sphere.”

To be sure, even Microsoft has moved – albeit slowly – away from the traditional Wintel model by declaring that future versions of its flagship operating system will support ARM-based SOCs.

Concurrently, ARM is preparing to challenge Intel in areas traditionally associated with “classic” x86 architecture, such as PC CPUs (see Nvidia’s Project Denver), servers and even supercomputers.

So, what can Santa Clara do?

Clearly, Intel must make its mobile business a priority by committing even greater resources to improving Atom until it is capable of effectively competing against, and perhaps even exceeding what ARM has to offer.

Yes, the corporation does have a multi-billion dollar war chest at its disposal, but the question remains: is Intel really serious about mobile?