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Intel to throw $1 billion at tablets

Subsidies for Bay Trail parts

Earlier this year Intel caused quite a stir when CEO Brian Krzanich announced the company’s ultimate goal is to make $99 tablets a reality. So far Intel has failed to gain much market share in the tablet space, dominated by cheaper ARM application processors and Android.

However, Bay Trail-T has a good chance to turn things around. The new chip can easily take on high-end ARM parts and in most cases, wipe the floor with them. Since it’s an x86 part, it can also be used in Windows 8.1 tablets. However, the price was a problem. Intel’s official Bay Trail-T prices range from $32 to $37, making the chips significantly more expensive than mid-range and low-end ARM parts. However, many vendors are said to be getting discounts and paying a bit less, in the $20 to $30 range.

Things may be about to change. According to Digitimes, Intel is planning to spend up to $1 billion on tablet chip subsides. The cash should sweeten the deal for vendors willing to give Intel SoCs a go. Since we are talking about relatively low average selling prices, Intel could use the cash to practically halve the prices and offer Bay Trail-T parts for as little as $10. This would make them competitive overnight, as high-end ARM SoCs like the Exynos 5 and Tegra 4 are estimated to cost well over $20.

Intel has a long tradition of overspending on marketing. A few years ago it showed Ultrabook vendors with $300 million worth of market development funding and it has a huge Core marketing program. Intel recently announced that it would start treating Atom and Core equally, hence the move would make sense. Since Core lifecycles are getting longer, Intel could simply shift some of the funding to Atom products, namely tablet parts like Bay Trail-T.

The only problem? Well the report comes from Digitimes and the site’s hit and miss track record has been on the “miss” side lately, so take it with a grain of salt.

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