In the conference call to discuss earnings, Krzanich discussed the Bay Trail system-on-a-chip platform Intel recently launched for tablets and smartphones. His goal is to sell 40 million tablets with Intel processors by year's end, having sold 10 million through 2013. Krzanich also toldRe/code how its low-power Quark chips would "find a home in all manner of gear from machines to wearables and more."
Krzanich is not immune to missteps. At CES this month, he demoed a number of devices in wearable computing, but the gambit backfired when the company admitted some of those devicesused chips from ARM, the rival whose chips power the iPad and other tablets.
But neither is Krzanich averse to bold measures. One of the pet projects of his predecessor, Paul Otellini, was OnCue, Intel's bid at creating new revenue streams outside of pure chips. OnCue was an Internet-driven set-top box designed by Eric Huggers, who previously created the well-received BBC iPlayer. OnCue delivered an interface that, according to those who saw it, was "beautiful" and "audacious," something that could finally deliver on the promise of big-screen Internet video and bury for good the medieval experience of navigating pay TV.
This week, Krzanich sold OnCue off to Verizon (VZ) for a reported $200 million, a fifth of Intel's original asking price. The deal is a good one for Verizon, helping it take on Comcast (CMCSA) and perhaps improve the TV experience for the small audience that has access to its FIOS TV service. Or maybe Verizon just wants to sunset a technology superior to the experience already offered by incumbents.
Why would Intel sell a perfectly good innovation at a steep discount? Most likely because of Krzanich-school practicality. Intel doesn't have to distract itself with things it poorly understands, like negotiating with the sharks that own video content. And also to win some valuable chits with Verizon, which has the power to tell mobile-phone manufacturers which chip to put into its smartphones and tablets ... like the Atom or the Bay Trail, maybe?
"Think of it in a way where you have a new CEO who has a strategy of delivering chips into phones and tablets, and no relationship with those big players," Barron's quoted an Intel source as saying. "When you have zero market share in mobile, one could argue there is a need to cement the relationship." In other words, Intel has fallen from a giant that told other industries how to do business to a company that curries favor with potential allies.
Just like an engineer. Krzanich may turn out to be a CEO like Facebook's (FB) Mark Zuckerberg -- so practical-minded he gets exactly what he wants in the end, even if it means passing serendipity along the way. No matter. Moore's law progresses. And under Krzanich, Intel will try to as well.