Could departure of Intel CEO signal faster shift toward mobile?

PC chip maker has been late to the mobile device market

Chip maker Intel (NASDAQ: INTL) announced Tuesday that Paul Otellini, its long-serving chief executive officer, is retiring in May.

In his seven years with the company, Otellini has succeeded in taking Intel to an estimated $54 billion company with profits topping $10 billion through cutting costs, beating back competitors, and extending the firm's lead in chip manufacturing, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Much of that success, however, has come in the PC market, while the computing trend over the last few years has been mobile. Intel has been late to the game in getting mobile device makers interested in Intel chips, as they have preferred instead to use chips made by Qualcomm and Nvidia.

Intel recently launched an effort to make in-roads into the mobile market, leveraging its long-time relationship with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to get Intel chips into some of its Surface tablets. In addition, researchers from Intel Labs said they are working on a 48-core chip for smartphone and tablets that could revolutionize mobile data.

The chip giant also launched this year a marketing program using the "Intel Inside" branding to convince device makers to use Intel chips to make their devices more appealing to buyers. So far, Intel has had limited success in North America with its efforts.

Intel's belated efforts in this area have meant that it has had to play catch up in the mobile space. While no reason was cited by Intel for Otellini's departure three years before the company's mandatory retirement age, his stumbles on the mobile front might be a factor.

For the first time, Intel is looking outside the company for a CEO, although it did announce the promotion of possible successors to Otellini: Renee James, head of Intel's software business; Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer and head of worldwide manufacturing; and Stacy Smith, chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy.

All of the past CEOs, including Otellini, have come up through the Intel ranks. Perhaps by indicating it would consider someone outside the firm to take over as CEO, the chip maker is looking for a new perspective on the mobile market.

For more:
- check out Intel's release
- read the WSJ article

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