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Intel & WindRiver: A Different Reason on Why It Makes Absolute Sense!

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Intel is going to acquire Wind River – it is all over the news & blogosphere. Some articles make the claim, such as this one in WSJ , that this acquisition will be a threat to Microsoft. The article also claims the acquisition will lead to a new source of revenue – selling software! Even if that is true, it is too far out to have a significant shareholder value – let’s not forget the real cash cow is in selling Processors and all other silicon they make!

I think it finally gives Intel the software expertise and hence control to add value to its processors & chips, and to out-rival the competition.

Here is why:

There is a growing need to have low-level software (a.k.a. firmware), the right Operating System (OS) support and the software tools for the specialized processors (System on Chip – SOC) Intel i s building for the new markets it is entering – one such example is Intel CE 3100 (code-name Canmore) designed for video devices such as Set Top Boxes (STB) and TVs. Intel’s thrust is evident in articles, a sampling of which you can read here, here, here,  and here.

And in this market for specialized processors, Intel is competing head on with the likes of Broadcom, Marvell, and Qualcomm. This market is sensitive to pricing plus needs bundling of the low-level firmware.  The inability to provide the enabling software would lead to the Intel chips being not used in favor of the competition. Without Wind River – Intel has to more or less rely on partners to support expanding range of software that needs to run on the specialized processors such as Adobe FlashLite, Google Android, Windows Mobile and may be in future the the new Palm WebOS being launched with Palm Pre.

Let me state the obvious – the real money is in creating and selling a device that adds value the higher end of the software stack – the Applications & Services a consumer would use.  And let’s not forget in the era of Web 2.0 time to market and service velocity is a must! So if I am a CE company and I want to design a product, I want a Processor that allows me to get to adding value quickly instead of spending time on doing the nitty-gritty embedded stuff.

Having Wind River in its portfolio enables Intel to out-compete and provide the complete solution to build CE devices…

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Written by Ashu Joshi

June 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

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