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How big would an Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) smartphone be? We could find out later this year thanks to LG Electronics, which plans an Intel-based handset.
But LG could be just the beginning. Analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint AmTech speculated in a research note that Intel's recent outsourcing deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM ) signals a high-volume push into the smartphone market, News.com reports.
That's hardly surprising. New designs based on Intel's Atom core -- already the brains behind most netbooks -- are meant to support entire systems-on-a-chip, or SOCs. These self-contained processors are low-power and all-inclusive, designed for a small footprint. A smartphone, for example.
And that could prove disruptive to the industry. At the very least, it threatens ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) , whose low-power designs are built into smartphone chips from Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN ) and Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) , among others.
Yet I'm more concerned with the implications for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . I had hoped that its partnership with Intel on the Mac would extend to the iPhone at some point. (Current editions of the iPhone use an ARM processor.) But now that Intel's Moorestown chip -- the code name for the second-generation Atom processor -- is planned for an LG device, I suspect that Apple will either stay with ARM, or create a new iPhone processor.
I'm betting on the latter. Apple endured federal scrutiny and a legal challenge from IBM (NYSE: IBM ) to assemble a chip design team that could transform its mobile devices. The pieces of this chip design team? P.A. Semi, acquired last April for $278 million in cash, and Mark Papermaster, a former IBM hardware engineer who has years of experience working with the Power Architecture that supports P.A. Semi's efficient designs.
Think of the implications. If Apple creates its own processor for the iPhone, and its work on the lightweight Snow Leopard version of the Mac OS suggests tighter ties between the iPhone and the Mac, doesn't it also make sense for Apple to redesign the guts of the Mac?
In other words, will Apple and Intel be rivals once again? Use the comments box below to let me know what you think.
Brrrrrrring! It's related Foolishness calling: