Intel's Ambitions Are Absolutely Absurd
Earlier Wednesday, in Why Won't Intel Just Tell the World It Doesn't Suck? , I took the bigger picture view.
Here's a company that cloaks itself in secrecy, allowing the media to run with leaks.
First, Intel was all set to unveil its cable television-disrupting set-top box at next week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Then, before we could properly scoff at this old rumor becoming a living, breathing idea, we hear that Intel has hit a snag. It seems the old-guard media content providers aren't cooperating. Shocker!.
The way Intel handles itself from a public/investor/media relations standpoint stinks. I get into why in the above-linked article. It's not about whether they give me a scoop or even salient information. It's about the larger, more important issue of how investors consume information about companies, particularly underperforming ones like Intel.
During times of uncertainty and transition, Intel should be opening the lines of communication with investors and the media, not closing them. When a hack like me says that Intel needs to hire a CEO who doesn't know anything about silicon , don't get all defensive. Go public and say that's just what we did with Intel Media, and we're thinking along similar, though maybe not the exact same lines for the larger company.
But this is not surprising. The way Intel handles itself is borne out of an arrogance hardly trademarked by Intel. It's the fortress, you'll get what we give you, pesky little shareholder, when we want to give it to you and you'll like it mentality that too many companies, big and small, exhibit. Apple (AAPL) , under Steve Jobs, stands as one of the few that has license to treat stockholders with such disregard.
It's this same arrogance, however, that makes Intel think it has a chance to do anything but fail or produce minuscule impacts in the living room.
Reed Hastings at Netflix (NFLX) must be laughing his Qwikster off at Intel. And when Hastings laughs at you, you know things are really bad. I'm sure that a considerably more credible media leader -- Jeff Bewkes at Time Warner (TWX) -- is laughing even harder.
While I appreciate that Intel realizes it has to completely transform itself -- and hire service- and content-oriented, hip and edgy media people -- I can't get over the fact it not only thinks it can succeed in the living room, but it can beat Apple, let alone frontrunners such as Microsoft (MSFT) .
For Intel to achieve anything even resembling significance in television it will need to buy at least one cable or satellite operator and more than one major content company. Maybe it will, but even that generates no guarantees.