Intel may have missed the first wave of the mobile revolution by ignoring cellphones and was too late on the second wave when smartphones actually started to eat into PC sales. If there is to be a third wave, the wireless connecting of billions of machines—like jet engines, weather sensors, self-driving cars, and what not—at least the world’s leading computer chip maker won’t be late.
The company has been extricating itself from its failed mobile efforts of the smartphone era, first slowly, now more quickly. But it wants to make sure no one misses its third wave push for the so-called Internet of things, still in the early stages.
Open source, ARM-based chips for smartphones dominate the current mobile market, feeding profits at Qualcomm (qcom), ARM (armhf), and other suppliers to Apple’s (aapl) iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy S line, and their competitors. Intel (intc) has been almost invisible, and the chip maker lost $7 billion in 2013 and 2014 trying and failing to catch up, though it is expected to get a small piece of business in the next iPhone.
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But the possible shift to even faster wireless technologies, called the fifth generation or 5G, could create an opening for a brand new leader to emerge. So Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has been trying like mad to get ahead of the curve on 5G and to position the company’s efforts ahead of the competition this time. Part of that effort was making one of the company’s highest-profile outside hires ever, nabbing Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala from Qualcomm late last year to lead Intel’s 5G push among other things.
Still, there’s been plenty of confusion, with some headlines about the recent move to kill older, phone-related chip efforts saying Intel was “getting out of mobile.” That wasn’t correct. So on Thursday, Renduchintala delivered a blog post trying to hone the points even more clearly.
“We are not exiting mobile, but we are broadening its definition to make it synonymous with the interconnectedness of the more than 50 billion ‘things,'” he wrote.
Even if many analysts, investors, and customers remain unconvinced, Renduchintala has optimism to spare. “I know that we’ll win in the connectivity revolution fueled by the IoT,” he writes. “I’m resolute in my belief that Intel is the only company on the planet that can do all of this from one end of the network to the other, delivering unique value to our customers.”
Renduchintala, like CEO Krzanich did in his April 26 blog post offering a broader look at the company’s strategy, still had to tread carefully to make clear Intel isn’t abandoning some of its core markets, like PCs, that while they may be shrinking still provide ample revenue and profits.
“The PC is foundational to our compute strategy and to our business,” Renduchintala noted. “It’s an engine that creates critical shared IP that drives innovation across our entire product portfolio. Intel will continue to deliver an annual cadence of leadership performance and innovation in our PC and broader computing roadmap, with a focus on key growth opportunities in 2 in 1s, gaming and home gateways.”
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The questions remain, however, whether Intel has the best solutions for the targeted growth markets like 5G and if its accelerated downsizing plans in shrinking businesses will proceed quickly enough.
Since Krzanich unveiled his big vision—and big layoffs—last month, shares of Intel are down 5%. Great blog posts aren’t the real answer, of course. But there’s still time for the CEO to deliver what investors really want: great results.