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Imagination Technologies Could Spell End Of Relationship Between Intel and Apple

Apple said last week that it was upping its stake in Imagination Technologies, a move that came within a few days of Intel's announcement that it will be partnering with one of Apple's fiercest rivals, Nokia.

Intel also has a significant stake in Imagination Technologies, which provide with the IP for the graphics subsystem of the Intel Atom platform. Apple also uses the company for its iPhone and iPod Touch models.

Both Apple and Intel are set to confront each other sooner or later. The partnership Intel has forged with Intel is set to convert the world's biggest semiconductor manufacturer into a fervent advocate of ultra mobility solutions, something many thought would never come as it sold its XScale family to Marvel Technology back in 2006.

But the pace at which smartphones are being sold is booming leaving Intel with a mature server, notebook and desktop market that is stagnating at best and shrinking dangerously in some aspects as the recession bites in.

Nokia partnering with Intel could open the doors to a market worth 400 million mobile phones sold per year by Nokia and that's in a bad year. In comparison, netbooks at best represent a market of 20 million units or so yearly.

Should Intel produce processors for Intel, they are likely to be destined for Netbooks or Mobile Internet Devices like the Nokia Tablet series before scaling all the way down to ARM-beating x86 processors or System On Chip - which is where Imagination Technologies nicely fits.

Imagination Technology is central to Intel's ambition to get a complete ultra mobile solution for smartphones. Intel however is not essential to Apple plans as the Cupertino-based company could buy Intel's rival, AMD, for $3 billion and use the latter's chippery inside its servers, laptops and desktops.

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Our Comments

Apple and Intel could be getting nervous under the collar or we could be awfully wrong. Both companies however know whether they stand when it comes to handling Imagination Technologies. The UK-based company, like ARM, is proving to be a vital part in the success of mobile computing and telecommunications. Now it would be rather interesting if ARM and Imagination Technologies came together.

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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.