Friday, December 12, 2008

Intel Inside ... Cars?

Intel is everywhere in our lives, of course. Now, Andy Grove, former chairman, is urging the company to diversify its business into the automobile industry by developing advanced batteries for plug-in electric cars. In addition to Intel's longstanding focus on powering standard desktops and notebooks, the company is currently focusing its efforts on smaller form factors -- chips for pocket-sized mobile Internet devices or MIDs. It is still too early to tell if such efforts will pay off (but I am a big believer in the need for advanced chipsets on a massive scale in these MIDs).

Grove now advocates Intel's current CEO, Paul Otellini, to also go the other way -- i.e., form factors that are just a bit bigger, carry people, and are mobile in a completely different way -- via wheels.

Certainly, the U.S. automobile industry is in dire need for innovation (separately, of course, at least today, Congress' bail-out for Ford, GM and Chrysler has failed). And, the U.S. and the rest of the world must wean itself away from its dependence on oil. Intel has the muscle to make a real "go" at it and crack this most vexing technological issue of producing -- on a mass scale and at a competitive price -- the kind of batteries necessary to make Grove's vision a reality.