Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

We’re So Ready to Sell Chips for Tablets, Intel COO Says

Intel COO Brian Krzanich wants you to know that the world’s biggest chipmaker’s fabs are poised to start turning out chips for tablets.

In an interview with Reuters, Krzanich says he has fine-tuned the company’s supply chain in order to meet an anticipated demand for tablets. “We will start to see more and more of our capacity and our output go to things that are mobile, like phones and tablets and other devices,” he tells the global newswire.

Indeed, when the man responsible for Intel’s massive global chip-manufacturing operation speaks, he does so with the authority of a company that tracks the pulse of demand for chips obsessively, so he doesn’t make so public a statement lightly.

Yet the basic competitive problem remains. While Intel still dominates the roughly 300-million-unit-per-year market for PC microprocessors, it has struggled to compete against chips based on designs from the British chip designer ARM, which power most of the world’s smartphones and tablets — including, not insignificantly, the iPad. And while Intel’s lower-power Medfield-generation chip has landed in designs from Lenovo and Motorola Mobility, the wins are seen as progress in a race in which it was already well behind the leader.

Perhaps more interesting is how Reuters casually refers to Krzanich as a candidate to succeed CEO Paul Otellini. Intel shook up its management ranks in January, and promoted Krzanich to COO. Covering Intel includes paying attention to a constant drumbeat of speculation about who the next boss is going to be. Otellini is 61, and the company’s mandatory retirement age is 65, so the succession race, and the perennial handicapping chatter that goes with it, will be something of a marathon.

Krzanich would be a logical successor, mainly because most Intel CEOs become COO first, including both Otellini and his predecessor Craig Barrett. Yet there’s still one rival who bears continued attention: Sean Maloney, the English-born current head of Intel China, had been widely seen as the leading contender before suffering a stroke two years ago. However, people who know him say his recovery is remarkable.

I noted Maloney’s return to competitive rowing last year. A September profile of Maloney in Fortune had more to say on that subject. While he has largely recovered physically, the main lingering effect of the stroke has been on his speech. If he can get close to sounding as he did before the stroke, we may have a real horse race on our hands.


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