Intel Turns to Former Apple Employee for Smartphone Reference Designs

Intel has tapped Apple veteran Mike Bell to lead a new team at the company whose job is to build smartphone reference designs that feature Intel technology. The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Bell, who also worked at Palm, will take on the title of Vice President and Director of Smartphone Product Development.

“Mike will help build and lead a team with the charter to build breakthrough smartphone reference designs with the explicit intent of accelerating Intel architecture into the market,” Anand Chandrasekher, Senior Vice President of Intel’s ‘ultra-mobility’ group, told The Journal in a statement. The company also emphasized that he will be focused exclusively on smartphone design.

Mr. Bell worked at Apple for 16 years, and Intel touted that his many projects at the company included working on the iPhone. He left Apple to go to Palm, as did many other Apple engineers, public relation staffers, and mid level managers, after Apple VP Jon Rubensein took over as CEO of Palm. He remained with the Palm group after HP bought the company earlier this year until this new move to Intel.

Intel’s interests in smartphones is in getting more of their processors into the fast growing category of mobile devices. The vast majority of smartphones — including the iPhone — use one variant or another of the ARM processor family, and Intel would like to change that.

The company’s business model in the past has been to develop “reference designs,” which are basically examples of products created by Intel that show whatever technology they are wanting to promote being used in a new way. Mr. Bell was involved with the iPhone, the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi, and Intel wishes to harness that experience in developing Atom-based smartphones.

Mike Bell

Mike Bell - Courtest of Palm Inc.
(That’s him on the right)