Outgoing Intel CEO Paul Otellini had some interesting things to say in a recent interview with The Atlantic. Among them: the revelation that he passed up the opportunity to have Intel silicon inside the original iPhone. A squabble over pricing apparently led Otellini to back off, steering Apple right toward the ARM-powered competition.
Here's what happened, in Otellini's words:
We ended up not winning it or passing on it, depending on how you want to view it. And the world would have been a lot different if we'd done it . . . The thing you have to remember is that this was before the iPhone was introduced and no one knew what the iPhone would do... At the end of the day, there was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn't see it. It wasn't one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100x what anyone thought.
The Atlantic says Otellini expressed visible regret when telling the story. The retiring Intel chief lamented that he should have followed his gut and not the data alone. "My gut told me to say yes," he told the paper.
The smartphone market—and Intel's bottom line—would certainly look a lot different today if Otellini had done that. I don't know if the iPhone would have been better, though. (Thanks to AppleInsider for the link.)