Intel’s status as “just a massive chip company” is definitely a thing of the past. The behemoth from Santa Clara has been very busy on the software front, forging a strategy to grab a slice of a revenue stream that has mostly eluded it — the very hot mobile market.
In recent months, the vendor acquired McAfee; went live with its AppUp platform and announced a series of related business deals; and is rumored to be in the process of creating a tool for developers to port Apple’s IOS-based applications to other OS-based devices.
Of the above software plays, the most notable was Intel’s acquisition this summer of security giant McAfee for about $7.68 billion.
“This acquisition is consistent with our software and services strategy to deliver an outstanding computing experience in fast-growing business areas, especially around the move to wireless mobility,” said Renee James, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Software and Services group, in a statement at the time.
“McAfee is the next step in this strategy, and the right security partner for us,” she said. “Our current work together has impressive prospects, and we look forward to introducing a product from our strategic partnership next year.”
Intel’s slowness in realizing the enormous potential of the mobile market is a regret that CEO Paul Otellini expressed publicly this month.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on October 5, Otellini said “I wish we had started earlier. I wish I had been smart enough to start [working on smartphone processors] seven years ago because we’d be in a good position today, but I wasn’t.”
Intel’s other major software initiative recently has been AppUp, its cloud-based storefront for netbook applications. There are more than 800 applications in the store, and about 30 percent of them are free.
“What this is intended to do is provide a framework, a common-development environment for applications on Intel Architecture across a multitude of device types,” said Otellini in his keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in September, when AppUp went live.
Otellini went on to say that “developers can write once to the framework and have their applications available on the Intel storefront, on customers’ storefronts, and on service providers’ storefronts across a multitude of devices.”
Intel recently teamed with Adobe to enable developers to distribute and monetize Adobe AIR applications and games via AppUp storefronts, the first non-Adobe app store supported by the new service.
Using the new Adobe application distribution platform beta, code named “Melrose,” developers and publishers can sell and distribute AIR applications to potentially millions of users while monitoring sales and downloads.
But Intel is thinking far beyond AppUp’s current offerings – hence its interest in creating a tool for developers to port Apple’s IOS-based applications.
Intel’s goal in targeting iPhone apps is to leverage the popularity, quality and ultimate success of those apps — creating an ecosystem of developers and devices around its microchips.
Intel is trying to penetrate the smaller-device market with its power-sipping Atom processor. The company originally created the chip for netbooks, but has since marketed it as ideal for handsets and other mobile devices. Under development is the low-voltage “Oak Trail” processor for tablets.
In tandem with its recent software efforts, the vendor recently bought German microchip maker Infineon’s wireless solution business for $1.4 billion to boost its presence in the smartphone segment. Infineon makes chips for Apple, Nokia and Samsung.