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Archive for August 20th, 2010

Here is some big news from SF Gate.

“Intel Corp., signaling its ambitions to expand beyond computers and into the booming market for mobile and Internet-connected devices, announced a deal Thursday to buy security software maker McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, the chipmaker’s biggest acquisition ever.

The surprise deal represents Intel’s bold move to position its chips, primarily its lower-powered mobile processors, as an attractive choice for the billions of coming Internet-connected devices, what some have termed the Internet of Things.

By integrating McAfee’s anti-virus software, the world’s biggest chipmaker hopes to create a product that addresses the potential security vulnerabilities created by countless wireless devices, appliances, cars, printers and ATM machines.

Paul Otellini, Intel’s president and CEO, said in a conference call that the Santa Clara company is looking to provide added security, which he called a third pillar of computing, after energy efficiency and connectivity. In the process, Intel is transforming from just a PC company to a broader computing company, he said.

“Our view is that everywhere we sell a microprocessor, there is an opportunity to sell security software with it,” he said.

The acquisition values McAfee, a leading security software firm also based in Santa Clara, at $48 a share. That is a 60 percent premium over its Wednesday closing price.

The deal also continues a streak of cash-rich Silicon Valley titans buying neighbors, following Oracle’s purchase of Sun and Hewlett-Packard‘s acquisition of Palm.

Intel said it would run McAfee as a subsidiary with its executive structure in place. David DeWalt, McAfee’s CEO, said he was excited about the prospect of teaming with Intel to tackle larger security challenges ahead.

“By becoming part of Intel Corp., we believe we can continue to create new and innovative security solutions,” said DeWalt.

Analysts’ reactions

Analysts greeted the news with mixed reactions. Some saw the wisdom of securing Internet-connected devices, which could hit an estimated 50 billion units in the next decade.

“If you look at the PC world, we have a stable stack and set of technologies like the operating system, middleware and antivirus software,” said Crawford Del Prete, an analyst with research firm IDC. “But when you think of connected devices, the stack doesn’t exist in the same way, and security will be a big problem for the billions of devices out there.”

The move will also help Intel compete against processors based on designs from ARM Holdings, which are found in virtually all cell phones and many electronic devices. ARM chips are preferred because they offer better power efficiency, but Intel’s move may help differentiate its chips by highlighting their built-in security protection.

Doubts about synergy

Other analysts, however, have questioned the strategy of buying McAfee, saying it is an expensive purchase and one whose synergies may be hard to realize.

Brian Marshall, an analyst with investment bank Gleacher & Co., said its unclear how much help McAfee can provide, with its strengths in selling packaged software for PCs. He said the business model for selling security for smaller and embedded devices is not established and may be challenging to monetize.

Symantec Corp., McAfee’s biggest rival, said in a statement that Intel might be too focused on securing individual devices when it should create a broader solution that addresses the multiple devices consumers will use.”

Read more here.

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