For years there have been rumors saying that Intel will make mobile processors for the iPhone, and we’ve explained why that won’t happen multiple times. It’s just too late for Intel in a world that is dominated by ARM.
The CEO of Intel stepped down today, and he has revealed a juicy factoid: Apple approached Intel to provide processors for the original iPhone some six years ago, and Intel said no.
From an interview with former Intel CEO Paul Otellini in The Atlantic:
“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,” Otellini told me in a two-hour conversation during his last month at Intel. “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.”
It was the only moment I heard regret slip into Otellini’s voice during the several hours of conversations I had with him. “The lesson I took away from that was, while we like to speak with data around here, so many times in my career I’ve ended up making decisions with my gut, and I should have followed my gut,” he said. “My gut told me to say yes.”
Perhaps Otellini’s successor will have a different attitude if the opportunity presents itself again.