Intel's XMM 7260 Is a Bit Late

I'll admit it. When Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) announced that its XMM 7260 LTE-Advanced category 6 modem would make it to market during the first half of 2014, it seemed that Intel had a chance of edging out Qualcomm's (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) MDM9x35 -- Qualcomm's first LTE-Advanced category 6 device -- to market. However, as the current quarter winds to a close, Intel's XMM 7260 has yet to show up in a formally announced device while Qualcomm's new chip finds a home in Samsung's premium edition of the Galaxy S5. In short, it's a bit late.

Intel had claimed that devices on shelves by Q2 2014
During Intel's press conference at the Mobile World Congress, Intel informed participants that the XMM 7260 would be in devices and on shelves by the second quarter of 2014. Further, the company was pretty clear in setting expectations for multiple design wins to be announced this spring. That didn't happen, and it's looking like we won't see designs until Q3.

Now, this is a far cry from the end of the world, and there's very little doubt that Intel will still be the second to market with a category 6 LTE-Advanced solution that's viable on many networks. However, it's a disappointment relative to the expectations set.

Hey, now, Intel's still No. 2!
Intel appears likely to be the No. 2 player in the discrete LTE baseband market next to Qualcomm, and it looks as though for the time being it will compete mostly on price rather than on performance and feature sets.

There's no shame in that, especially considering that Intel is still transitioning its modem efforts from "fast follower" (which is how it was run before Intel acquired it) to leadership, but this does give us a bit more perspective on where Intel is today vis-a-vis cellular.

Not a near-term problem for the share price
The reason, though, that this slip isn't all that material to shareholders is that the company's stock is still basking in the glory of the seemingly rejuvenated PC market. It's too early to tell whether this is just a one-time bump driven by the Windows XP end-of-life, or if the secular trends are now in Intel's favor, but at the very least this PC-driven bump is buying Intel a bit more time to get its mobile efforts in order.

Foolish closing thoughts
Intel is making steady progress, but for now, there's no question that Qualcomm's the king of this market. Intel's next shot at leadership will be with its XMM 7460 LTE-Advanced baseband, built on Intel's 14-nanometer process and -- from leaked roadmaps -- scheduled for launch in early 2016.

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  • Report this Comment On June 22, 2014, at 4:36 PM, JimBo11 wrote:

    Ashraf Eassa of Motley Fool: Intel LTE-A is not late to the market, Intel president Renee James in a couple weeks ago announced that its LTE-A was shipping to customers for evaluation, Intel has a much bigger task than Qcomm since it is the first time in the LTE-A market, it takes a much longer time to qualify XMM 7260 in every LTE market of the world; even it is qualified, Samsung may not necessary use it in the their phones. I.e., it is not ease to get into the market in the first shot, it does not need to, it is a long term endurance in the market will win. It is the quality and pricing and support will win the customers! Given Intel’s recent effort, pushing into the mobile market, I would not be surprised to see it becomes a dominant player in the LTE market soon. Just give Intel some time!

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Ashraf Eassa

Ashraf Eassa is a technology specialist with The Motley Fool. He writes mostly about technology stocks, but is especially interested in anything related to chips -- the semiconductor kind, that is. Follow him on Twitter:

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