05:36 AM

Interview: Motorola Vet Roger Jellicoe Is Helping Intel Makes World's 'Best Phone'

Roger Jellicoe Intel mobile device R and D

Interview with Roger Jellicoe, head of R&D for devices in the Intel Mobile and Communications Group.

By Intel Free Press

When Motorola veteran Roger Jellicoe joined Intel last year, The Register called it "an awesome coup" and declared that "Jellicoe is well known in the technical parts of the industry for understanding how to pull together complex projects."

As the leader of research and development for devices in Intel's Mobile and Communications Group Jellicoe has been tackling nothing but complex projects. The group, which is essentially a phone and tablet OEM inside Intel, builds complete phones and tablets -- with Atom chips and Intel modems -- all the way through industry and network certifications.

Jellicoe joined Intel after 36 years with Motorola. While there he led development of several popular phones including the Droidx, the V60 and the iconic Motorola RAZR. More recently he led the development of apps and services for Motorola phones.

In this interview, Jellicoe explains what brought him to Intel and why he believes the company can build "the best phone in the world."

What brought you to Intel after a long and successful career with Motorola?

When I first joined Motorola (in 1976), I was in the two-way radio business. Motorola went through a transition as a cellular business and I moved over into that business because I viewed that as the driver of growth for the company.

And then very recently, Motorola split off into two, and the mobile business was acquired by Google. It went from being the heart of the business to being some kind of enabler for the search business and the other Google services business.

Intel looked interesting as an opportunity because Intel needs to make a transition from being mainly a PC company to addressing the other big part of computing, which is in mobile, so that looked exciting to me.

What is the key to succeeding in the mobile market? 

If one thing doesn't work, you've got to try something else. That's the nature of innovation. In mobile, it's going to take as much innovation in business model as it's going to take in product.

Mobile has gone through transitions in business models. It used to be all about the design of a product, and Apple introduced the smartphone, and there's a significant amount of service revenue outside of the carriers with that model.

Google came up with a business model where they gave software away for free and made money on the advertising. And now Amazon's come through and it's like, "Never mind the advertising. I'm going to fulfill the order."

The whole industry has gone through transitions in different ways to make money through mobile. If we are going to thrive in this industry, we're going to have to adapt.

What do you see as Intel's role now in the scheme of all that?

We've got to be cognizant of the fact that Intel as a company invests billions of dollars turning sand into money. And anybody who doesn't think that's Intel's business shouldn't be working here.

The only thing that we debate within Intel is what's the best way of doing that. One of the things that's exciting about Intel to me is Intel has a culture of boldness and innovation. Those are core values of this company.

It's those things that made Intel a great company. It's not PCs. It's not "Wintel." It's those core values that made Intel a great company.

We do need to be bold and innovate in products and technology. To win in mobile, we also need to be bold and innovative in how we bring our product differentiators to market.

What could that look like?

My opinion is that part of our job should be to make the OS (operating system) irrelevant to the consumer. If we find ways of having great user experiences on any device and we enable that across platform apps, great. But even more important than that, we have these silo ecosystems -- Windows and Android and iOS -- and they don't play nice with each other in general.

Any way that Intel can break those barriers down so that people within the same family who have different devices on different ecosystems can exchange information with each other seamlessly, and there's a great deal of transparency between devices, that's where we can really add some consumer value.

How far has Intel come in mobile?

One of the other reasons I came to Intel is when I was at Motorola, the Intel reps used to call me and ask me if I would design a product with Intel.

And I would look at the specs and say, "You're 100 times worse than the competition for power." So they came back and they said, "We've got new low-powered chips. Would you consider us now?"

I looked at it and I said, "You're 10 times worse, great job, 10x improvement, but you're still 10 times worse." And Intel came back with the Medfield and said, "Take a look at us now. Will you consider chips for the phone?"

And I looked at it, and the Medfield is roughly parity with the rest of the industry in performance and power consumption. And I thought, well, Intel's come from 100 times worse to being parity with the industry.

This is a company that has potential to gain leadership. I feel like the products that we're working on now and that are going to be introduced this year are leadership products.