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New Intel CEO creates 'New Devices' division focused on 'cool technology'

Well, that didn't take long. A mere five days after Brian Krzanich took the reins as the new CEO of Intel, he's shaking things up at an organizational level.

Krzanich has reorganized key business groups and created a new "New Devices" division to focus on emerging trends, including "ultra-mobile" devices, reports AllThingsD. Mike Bell, who formerly co-ran Intel's mobile unit--most notably in the push to bring x86 to Android--will take leadership of the new division.

"The group will be tasked with turning cool technology and business model innovations into products that shape and lead markets," Intel said in a statement to AllThingsD.

Reuters first reported the changes after an anonymous source came forward with the information. Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy confirmed to Reuters that Krzanich had sent out an internal email outlining the changes, but didn't elaborate further on shake-up details.

We've reached out to Intel and will update this post when the company gets back to us.

New devices?

What, exactly, falls under the purview of the New Devices division? The very name is cloaked in ambiguity, and the short statement provided to AllThingsD doesn't clarify much.

The most straightforward possible explanation--and one hinted at by all the "ultra-mobile" and "cool technology" talk--is that the New Devices division was created to spearhead Intel's push into "beyond-smartphone" devices (like Google Glass and the Nike+ Fuelband) to prevent the company from being caught as flat-footed in future arenas as it was with the rise of mobile.

Intel's upcoming Silvermont Atom chips will be its first processors truly built from the ground up for the power efficiencies required in mobile devices.

Background

When Krzanich was named CEO, former Intel software honcho Renee James was also named president of the company. At the time, the Wall Street Journal reported that the duo was chosen because of their plans for moving into "new devices."

"That is absolutely what won them the job," former Intel chairman Andy Bryant told the paper. "Brian and Renee delivered a strategy for Intel that is pretty dramatic."

In 2012, Intel released a software framework designed to help manage data flowing in and out of the so-called "Internet of things"--the vast collection of network-connected devices, like smart TVs and app-powered fridges, that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our lives.

Last year, the company also announced a "China Intel Internet of Things Joint Labs" with the Beijing Municipal Government and Institute of Automation of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In my recent (and apparently aptly named) article "Intel's next-gen CEO must get inside next-gen devices," I mentioned that all of those connected Internet of Things devices need some sort of processor, however basic--and nobody does chips better than Intel. The small, simple, power-sipping chips found in Internet of Things devices are a whole 'nother beast than Intel's usual wares, however.

"With this whole 'Internet of Things,' where processors are in literally everything from your clothing to your glasses to your TV and your coffee maker, what processor is Intel going to bring to the table for that? Atom is 1 watt in a smartphone, but Internet of Things processors are a tenth of a watt," Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst of Moor Insights and Strategy (and a long-time AMD vice president) told me. "Going a few process nodes down isn't going to get you there."

The New Devices devices could--repeat could--be Intel's first attempt to answer that question. Who knows? It may even mix hardware and software into one cohesive package for next-gen products.

I'm left thinking of a cryptic statement Intel spokesperson Chuck Mulloy shared when, in the course of researching the "Next-gen CEO" article, I asked him if Intel had any plans to move into embedded devices and the Internet of Things.

"Oh, without any specifics you should assume it's all fair game," Mulloy told me, "...but nothing definitive yet."


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