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Predictions abound as to who lands Intel's CEO title

Posted: 22 Nov 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PC business? chip maker? retirement? succession plan?

Intel has always maintained a structured succession plan especially for its chief executive post. The chip maker is known for vigorously supporting internal promotions, rarely hiring outsiders. Paul Otellini and his predecessors all rose through the ranks, serving many years before landing at the top.

Otellini's announcement of his decision to retire in May caught many off guard. (See Intel announces CEO retirement.) Now analysts left and right are offering their expert opinion on the matter, some of whom are claiming that there is a strong chance that the next CEO may be from outside the company.

At this stage in its history, some think Intel needs its Lou Gerstner, a savvy star-CEO from outside its industry who can shake up the chip maker's model and get ahead of a rapidly changing industry.

It's anyone's guess who can transform the x86 giant the way R.J. Reynolds' exec Gerstner re-made the struggling IBM into a modern day services giant. But there's a broadly felt sense that change is needed.

Intel's core PC business is slowing. The Wintel duopoly that dominated it has fractured. Microsoft embraced ARM in Windows 8 and Windows Phone; Intel rides Linux and Android in servers and smartphones.

More importantly, the old Intel formula of following Moore's Law looks like the wrong prescription for the next era. Increasingly, systems need greater energy efficiency, not raw horsepower. And new semiconductor nodes are coming more slowly and offering less bang for the buck in process technology investment.

"Intel still sees its advanced processes as key to its continuing success," said Will Strauss, principal of Forward Concepts. "It'll be interesting to see if Otellini's successor is a physicist [like Gordon Moore], engineer [like Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs] or business manager [like Otellini]. I vote for an engineer with business experience."

Otellini gets kudos for many accomplishments in his eight-year reign. His big shortfall has been failing to better position Intel in mobile markets that have supplanted PCs as the clients of choice. Intel's latest Atom chips have a handful of design wins in smartphones and tablets, but they represent a few drops in a barrel full of ARM-based designs.

In the short term, Intel's Ultrabookgeared to stem the rising tablet tidehas been a disappointment. Analysts said they will probably not reach even half of Intel's target of becoming 40 per cent of client shipments in the last quarter of the year.

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