So, just what is this new strategy
upcoming from Krzanich and James? Unfortunately, I can't tell you the
specifics, because I don't know. No one at Intel outside of the board
and the executive suite seems to know.
What I can confirm is that Intel's board of directors have signed off
on the strategy. They picked Krzanich because he was perceived as being
the best person to make a go of the plan. (Indeed, I may have it
backwards: in one version, Krzanich worked on developing the strategy
and presented it to the board.)
What I can say, albeit in fairly general terms, is that it's clear
that the new strategy will have several key components. First, it will
entail a more aggressive thrust into mobile and tablets. On the face of
it, "more aggressive" seems meaningless. Intel is already in that
posture. What they need isn't more effort, it's more success. Thus one
can assume that the strategy corrals together the internal resources to
make that happen.
At the same time, one must wonder whether keeping Atom as the
centerpiece of Intel's tablet posture is the best possible recipe for
Another tine of Intel's new thrust seems
obvious and therefore makes a lot of sense. It's the recognition that
there's more and more software in everything. So, software is going to
be an explicit part of Intel's new messaging. Actually, it's unfair to
say that software hasn't already been enlisted into the Intel ecosystem.
What's going to be different going forward is that there's likely to
be more of a focus on the value proposition provided by software. This
could be to Intel's benefit, because the company has lots of heavyweight
software -- think compilers and dev tools -- about which it can
On the other hand, Intel might hit the same wall many other vendors
with great software have found. Namely, if software itself can't tell
customers that it wants to be free -- because software can't talk --
Intel's customers won't bashfully demur about their collective
abhorrence of spending money on bits.
As well, hardware itself is on the cusp -- and that's being generous
-- of commoditization. Indeed, to the extent that Intel has been hurt
by ARM, the damage likely stems not from any architectural advantage.
Rather, it's probably the fact that, though it took more than two
decades, ARM, through its wide collection of licensees, has solidified a
competitive market presence in a manner which eluded AMD.
In obtaining the background for this
little analysis piece, I was reminded that Intel remains a powerhouse
with core assets as good as any other company out there. (Actually, my
Intel contact told me they're better.) They've got a great architecture,
superb semiconductor manufacturing facilities -- indeed, they're one of
only three or four companies worldwide that can afford to build cutting
edge fabs -- and lots of capital.
That's true, even if one notes that past performance is not
indication of future success. (Nor are past failures predictive of
continued bad mojo.) In that light, Intel's realization that it needs to
convert its desire for serious growth in comms and software into a
detailed, implementable strategy is a very good thing.
One more thing
Before I sign off, here's the big scoop
you've all been waiting for. How does one pronounce Brian Krzanich's
last name? According to Intel, it's "Krah-ZAN-ich." If you can't say
that three times fast, you can always use his internal Intel nickname,
which is "BK."