The rise of the mobile as the center of our lives caught out many companies, however, there are two in particular that have lost more than most and have the potential to become completely irrelevant if they do not pivot quickly enough.
Microsoft and Intel were absolute behemoths that had a presence in almost every home thanks to the PC. As a software maker, Microsoft missed the mobile revolution and has now conceded the space to its competitors while Intel has been upended by Qualcomm and Nvidia. Intel also shut operations and all its chips in development for the mobile space.
At Computex, we got a better glimpse of where Intel sees itself in the near future. It is trying to reinvent itself as an IoT company. The opportunity is definitely there. Billions of devices are expected to be added on to this network within the next five-six years. IoT is slated to be the biggest driver of growth for chip makers as consumers start to adopt driverless connected cars, smart grids and smart homes in increasing numbers.
Ericsson published its latest mobility report and claimed that IoT will overtake standalone mobile devices in number by the year 2021 to become the biggest connected network in existence. They point to dropping costs, an emergence of newer and better use cases and the deployment of 5G networks across the world as factors that will drive this growth.
Intel is hoping that some of its recent steps put it in a prime position to gain from these changes. The company recently purchased a computer vision company called Itseez for an undisclosed amount. This company was involved in the development of technology that allowed it process data from connected cameras to provide real-time feedback to computers.
This technology is a very popular method to help driverless cars navigate and ‘know’ what decision should be made in different situations. The acquisition will help the company play catch-up to NVIDIA that has been flexing its GPU expertise in industries where computing power is everything.
More than 80 car makers and tier 1 suppliers are already testing NVIDIA’s technology and so Intel has its work cut in this area as well. It is expected that Intel will need to make some more strategic acquisitions to make up lost ground.
Another area where Intel is focusing on is to make products for the cloud. Intel believes that by powering data centers it can help the market for connected devices grow and thus drive growth for further data centers.
It is a huge change in tack for a company that advertised itself as being ‘inside’ your products to hoping it can run the data centers your devices will connect to. Intel is at a pretty interesting juncture in its history as it is seeing the PC market decline and the newer markets on which it is focusing do not yet have the volume required to pick up the slack.
Companies like NVIDIA and Qualcomm have already moved before Intel to make low-cost low-power chips that will form the basis of IoT and Intel will have to work hard to cut into that lead. It may seem like the chips are stacked against it but it only takes one revolutionary product or breakthrough before the company is back at the center of things soon again and there is no one more capable than Intel of doing so. Count them out at your own peril.