Who is Intel’s biggest Threat?

November 26, 2012, anysilicon

Paul Otellini has made the best decision for himself and for Intel. He is leaving the company.

There are only a few who don’t admire Intel. Intel has introduced ground breaking technologies decade after decade and has been demonstrating top financial results year after year. Is it beneficial for Intel that Otellini is leaving now, or is it a threat?

It seems the mobile market has been a hard nut to crack for Intel.  As a matter of fact, Intel has a long history of failures outside the PC market. Intel tried to enter the mobile market using primarily one strategy: acquisitions. Often, by buying small chip companies with one or two products, and occasionally by buying an entire division (for example: Infineon mobile) with a massive product line. Intel has tried to penetrate the mobile market by getting a foot step in supporting market segments, such as Wi-Fi, Optical Communication, Wireless-USB, DSP, memory etc. And most surprisingly, Intel also bought some software companies including the largest Anti-Virus company, McAfee, in 2010 for over 7B$.

All that money spent — just to get a chance to speak to mobile manufacturers. And yet, it does not seem that the acquisition strategy has worked. They seem to be going around in circles.

It is a well-known fact that the PC market is shrinking and the mobile market is booming. If you still have any doubts, check out Microsoft’s home page. Intel knew it for long time – hence the massive acquisition attempts and expansion into new markets. Intel does not want to be like the giants who dominated the analog (film) camera market but failed to understand the transition to digital cameras. Kodak, Agfa and Fuji are definitely not Intel’s roles models.

Very recently, Qualcomm has been named as the new Intel. That’s totally nonsense. Qualcomm is far from being the new Intel. But Qualcomm’s success represents the new upcoming ‘fabless model’ that folks tend to appreciate. While Intel is building its own fab, developing its own CAD tools and methodologies, a very large number of fabless IC vendors manufacture their products using external foundries, buy their CAD tools from external vendors and collaborate with many other companies.

Partnership, collaboration, and co-ompetition are the new ways of doing business these days. While Intel has opened up its fab for external projects for the first time in history, it is not enough.

In light of Intel’s unsuccessful attempts to penetrate the mobile market, the rapid shrinking of the PC market, and the lack of collaboration philosophy, could it be that Intel is becoming a threat to itself?

Perhaps the new CEO will help drive the company to a new exciting mobile era. I fully agree with those claiming the new CEO should not be an Intel employee. Intel needs a leadership with a new set of mind, and now is the right time to get a new CEO and create a new promising future for Intel.


“While the story is unique to Intel, the lessons, I believe, are universal” ― Andrew Grove (Intel’s CEO 1979-1997)