Intel drops branded wireless product lines

With the cost of Wi-Fi products declining rapidly over the past few years, Intel Corp. has decided to abandon its branded wireless product lines and instead focus on its core competency – chipsets.

“You have to look at what has happened to the price of Wi-Fi network interface cards (NICs), for instance,” said Tom Potts, spokesperson for Intel in Portland, Ore. “If you go back about two years ago you were looking at about US$160 to US$180 per product and now you can get them from about US$39 out of Taiwan.”

While the competitive nature of the Wi-Fi market is good for the consumer, it’s not good for the vendor whose bread and butter lies elsewhere.

Intel’s Pro/Wireless Wi-Fi products aimed at the enterprise market were discontinued in June 2003 while its AnyPoint brand – geared towards consumers – and the Xircom wireless products were discontinued months ago.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel will continue to support Pro/Wireless products until demand for support ceases. Potts said this will happen only when support calls diminish to a trickle.

He explained Intel won’t be changing its R&D strategy but will simply change the way the company brands and markets its technologies.

“We are still involved in the wireless space,” he explained. “But we are no longer involved from the perspective of doing building blocks instead of branded products.”

The company will be allocating its resources towards wireless connectivity with the eventual goal of putting wireless connectivity right into the CPU, however this is years away, Potts said.

At the forefront of Intel’s chipset offerings is the Centrino brand, which includes the Pentium M – a processor with mobile functionality.

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