Intel executive shuffle will enable 'adjustment' to UMPC, says Manetta

Posted by Scott M. Fulton, III

Santa Clara (CA) - In an interview this afternoon with TG Daily, Intel spokesperson Robert I. Manetta said one of the objectives of today's senior executive and general managerial shuffle, announced this morning, was to enable a seasoned, experience executive the chance to take the helm of the company's ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) project, with the intention of "creating the product," perhaps all over again.

Intel Senior Vice President Anand Chandrasekher

Intel Senior Vice President Anand Chandrasekher, who now moves to the leadership post of the UMPC project. (Courtesy Intel Corp.)

In the new corporate alignment, Anand Chandrasekher, formerly co-general manager of the Sales and Marketing Group, will lead a new corporate group devoted to the UMPC as well as special low-power architecture products. This leaves Sean Maloney solely in charge of sales and marketing, in a position now called Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, which Manetta denied today was a promotion, although some say it creates a clear line of succession for Maloney's future upward mobility.

Chandrasekher, whose previous successes at Intel included launching the Centrino project, will have the daunting task of restoring life to the lackluster UMPC, which Manetta admitted today hasn't lived up to Intel's initial expectations. "I don't know if you've seen the reviews," he said, "but they've been mixed, to put it kindly. We knew going in that the first versions of Ultra-Mobile PCs would not be world beaters. We knew it would take some time to get the battery life up, [and] get the costs down...and quite frankly, we go out with an idea that this is going to be attractive, but we don't know exactly how they're being used until you start having the products out there in the marketplace." Based on feedback from Intel's customers and partners, he added, adjustments have to be made to the UMPC.

There will be two key categories of "adjustments," according to Manetta: First, Intel has to develop new low-power silicon, which is why Chandrasekher was given authority to manage both low-power and UMPC. Second, staying with the frank tone of the discussion, Manetta said the whole UMPC category needed to be truly defined. "You think you have a good idea for a new product," he remarked, "and you have to go out and you have to quantify that, and continually adjust your idea of what's a good business model, while working with all these different partners out there. It's not a small job."

Moving Chandrasekher into a position of sole authority, and leaving Maloney in a position of sole authority, are examples of Intel moving away from its so-called "two-in-the-box" approach of co-management, at least along these upper ranks. Is the whole two-in-the-box idea likely to be scrapped when Intel makes its major reorganization? Not entirely, replied Manetta. "We aren't getting rid of the two-in-a-box structure completely," he said. "...It's very much a case-by-case basis, in evaluating what's best for having one executive run an organization, and what's best for having two. In the cases where it is going away, the belief is that by having just one executive in charge, potentially you can aid the speed of decision-making and the quality of decision-making, and aid communications."

Today's move does not actually reduce the upper ranks of Intel by very much, with the exception of two anticipated retirements by long-time company veterans. It also isn't a cost-cutting move, as some had speculated earlier this morning. But its key selling point is that it reduces the number of executives who report directly to Otellini. "If you drop the number in half for those organizations," said Manetta, "that's fewer people that are reporting to Paul, and that can potentially free Paul up for other things, like long-range planning."

Presumably, Otellini's long-range planning effort continues, as his company reported yesterday another disappointing quarter, with revenues down year-over-year by 13%, and profits down annually a disastrous 57%. But in what may be a gradual change of plan, Manetta would not confirm that further details about the reorganization would indeed come during the company's upcoming quarterly guidance call to investors. Instead, surprisingly, he told TG Daily that the reorganization was a big and ongoing effort, so tasks related to that effort would be announced as they happen.