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Intel Corp.'s Mobile Chief Decides to Stay

By Ashraf Eassa - Apr 25, 2016 at 9:30AM

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Aicha Evans has rescinded her resignation.

Aicha Evans. Image source: Intel.

A while back, reports began to circulate that Aicha Evans, the head of Intel's (INTC -4.62%) wireless group, had tendered her resignation. Interestingly, when the chip giant announced the imminent departures of two longtime executives, Evans' name was not mentioned.

Interestingly, follow-up reports suggested that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich was been "scrambling to get Evans to change her mind." In commentary on that report, I suggested that Intel's best bet to get Evans to stick around would be to hand her a substantial sum of money.

Although investors may never know exactly how he pulled it off, but Bloomberg reports that Evans has rescinded her resignation.

Good for Intel
Intel has made it clear that it continues to be interested in pursuing the market for cellular modems. The rationale is that, over the longer-term, computing devices will need to offer robust connectivity in addition to excellent computing power.

Intel has argued that cellular connectivity will play an increasingly important role in a broad range of computing devices, ranging from smartphones to various Internet of Things devices.

In light of the recent tumult within Intel, most notably the recent restructuring efforts that will leave about 12,000 Intel employees out of work, it would be a clear negative for the company's wireless technology ambitions to lose a leader of Evans' caliber.

What now?
At some point, Intel's wireless efforts need to start paying off. If the company shows that it can consistently field competitive products into the marketplace and build customer trust, then I could see the chip maker establishing itself as a credible supplier of cellular chip solutions into the marketplace longer-term.

For Intel, which is actively seeking new revenue streams to replace the revenue lost from the continued decline of the personal computing market, establishing a meaningful presence in this market would likely be welcomed by stockholders.

If Intel can get its modem technology right, then this would serve as an excellent foundation for a stronger push into the market for mobile-focused processors.

Not only could Intel profit from selling stand-alone modems to Apple (AAPL -5.64%) (which is really the only major vendor that relies primarily on stand-alone modems), but that modem technology could be incorporated into system-on-chip designs that incorporate the cellular baseband processor as well as the applications processor.

The majority of smartphones sold today use chips that combine the modem with the applications processor.

Smartphones are, by necessity, at the leading edge of cellular modem technology. If Intel's modems can eventually succeed in the smartphone market, then deploying them (or derivatives of them) into other market segments shouldn't be all that difficult.

Although a single individual can hardly be responsible for the success or failure of a given venture, strong management certainly serves to tilt the odds in favor of success.

Given Intel's continued struggles in the mobile market, I'm far from willing to predict long-term technical and ultimately financial success for its cellular modem efforts. However, I feel significantly better about them knowing that Evans will be staying. 

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