Intel in 2011: The Battle for the Mobile Handheld and Tablet Markets

By Robert Burgelman, Debra Schifrin
2013 | Case No. SM184 | Length 27 pgs.

The case presents the significant challenges confronting Intel in 2011 in its efforts to break into the mobile market. In the beginning of 2011, Intel dominated the microprocessor market for personal computers (PCs), but had essentially no presence in the cell phone, smartphone or tablet markets. Almost all mobile devices used a competing microprocessor architecture licensed by ARM Holdings. Smartphones were becoming increasingly sophisticated computers, and this convergence of communications and computing meant that it was strategically vital for Intel to get its chips into these categories of devices.

The case details Intel’s efforts to lower the power consumption of its chips to compete in the mobile market, which led to the launch of a new microprocessor – the Atom. The case also discusses the development of new platforms; the creation of MeeGo, a new operating system jointly built with Nokia; and the company’s strategic acquisitions. In addition, the case highlights the different strategic visions of the hardware and software groups, and the company’s marketing strategy in the mobile space.

Learning Objective

The objective is for students to learn about the difficultly for large, successful incumbents to expand or transition into new areas when the landscape changes – in this case through rapid technological advancements. Another learning objective is for students to understand the tensions that can arise between different parts of an organization during a time of change.
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