The Curious Case of LG And The Elusive x86 Handset

The Korea Times has been sowing some mischief reporting some LG execs as saying they’ll launch an x86-based phone at CES and another LG exec saying they won’t.

LG, of course, is Intel’s best pal in the handset business, having several times announced it would use an Intel processor in a handset, only for the handset to have turned out to be a prototype which never went on the market.

Samsung’s boss Lee Hee-sung says Intel and LG will unveil something at CES and another LG-er is quoted as saying a handset will be announced.

But a third LG exec is quoted as saying: “”I doubt that LG Electronics will release phones running on Android software based on any Intel platform. It’s quite possible for LG to push Intel’s reference mobiles but with huge subsidies from Intel for promotion.”

This suggest that Intel is importing into the telecoms industry its old trick from the PC industry of paying lavish amounts of wonga to persuade OEMs to use Intel processors.
For this practice Intel has been heavily censured by the US SEC and US FTC and the company now operates under a Consent Decree.

However the Consent Decree applies only to computer makers, so handset makers can be treated just as Intel likes.

So, if Intel is paying LG “huge subsidies ” to put an x86 processor in a handset, the question arises: Is LG going to market a smartphone which uses an x86 processor, or is the CES announcement just going to be another reference design wrapped in plastic which will be quietly shelved after CES?

In other words: Is LG taking the piss?

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