We’re thrilled to tap into the limitless creativity will.i.am brings to the table. He’s not only a brilliant artist and producer, but also an innovator pushing the bounds of technology professionally and personally. We share a strong interest in innovation around music, art and lifestyle, and are excited to join forces to establish an authentic, emotional connection with consumers.
Deborah Conrad, Intel vice president and chief marketing officer, in a press release announcing Intel’s partnership with the oddly named rapper from The Black Eyed Peas. No word on if Apple will counter by linking forces with apl.de.ap. Maybe Yahoo will line up with Fergie? — Paul

Should McAfee look for another buyer?

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Chart: CNNMoney.com

Remember all the head-scratching when Intel announced it was buying McAfee? A company that makes chips purchasing a developer of anti-virus security software? Huh?

Well, one analyst thinks that even though the deal was announced over four months ago, another big tech company should swoop in and make a hostile (and bigger) bid for McAfee than Intel’s $7.7 billion bid.

Alan Weinfeld, director of technology research with Kern Suslow Securities in New York calls Intel’s offer inadequate.

Weinfeld, who I used to quote regularly when I was on the tech beat a few years ago, (he even reminded me of a 2004 piece about security companies titled $pam, $pam, lovely $pam) points out that McAfee is getting acquired for only about 3 times estimated 2011 sales.

Cash rich tech giants have done several other deals this year where they valued targets at much more lucrative multiples. Hewlett-Packard bought ArcSight and 3PAR for about 7 times next year’s revenue forecasts. Isilon was acquired by EMC for 8.5 times estimated sales. And even Compellent, which Dell recently agreed to buy in a so-called “takeunder”, was valued at 5 times 2011 revenue.

Weinfeld said that he thinks several other tech companies could easily afford to pay $10 billion for McAfee. That would still only value the company at about 4.5 times next year’s revenue targets. But it would be a nearly 30% premium to Intel’s bid.

Weinfeld specifically identified Microsoft, Cisco, HP, IBM and Oracle as companies with the financial resources to pull off a deal. He also said they make more sense as an acquirer than Intel since they all have a bigger foothold in software and/or security than Intel. Weinfeld does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned here and his firm has no investment banking relations with them.

I think he makes an interesting argument. But I still doubt that another tech company is going to do its best 1980s impersonation and go hostile. Yes, there is (in theory) time for another rival bid for McAfee. There’s also an irate McAfee shareholder suing to block the deal. And even though the Intel/McAfee marriage is inching closer to actual consummation (the FTC just approved it) it probably won’t close until the middle of next year. The EU has yet to give the deal a green light.

But if another company wanted to buy McAfee why has nobody already stepped in to be the proverbial white knight? When Dell first agreed to buy 3PAR in mid-August, HP countered within a week, not months. So if you are an angry McAfee investor, don’t hold your breath for a Christmas miracle higher offer. - Paul

The end of Wintel

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Image: venturebeat.com

The exclusive, 25-year marriage between Microsoft Windows and Intel is about to end, according to several news reports.

Windows, by far the world’s most popular PC operating system, has always required its computers to have a so-called x86 processor. Those chips were created by Intel, and are now also licensed to companies like AMD.

X86 processors are great for raw power and speed, but they’re also electricity hogs. That’s why Microsoft is losing the tablet race — badly. The vast majority of tablets, smartphones and other battery-operated devices run on power-sipping processors designed by ARM.

Windows 7 has appeared on a very small handful of tablets running Intel’s Atom processor, which was designed for netbooks. Intel is expected to produce a more tablet-appropriate chip next year, which will help Microsoft put Windows 7 on many more tablets to compete with the iPad and a some Android devices.

But, perhaps feeling the heat for falling so far behind Apple in the tablet race, Microsoft reportedly will allow its next version of Windows to operate on ARM-based processors. Microsoft declined to comment, but the company has hinted that Windows 8 (or whatever it will be called) will be more tablet-friendly than the current version.

Wait… the next version of Windows? As in, the version that’ll come out two years from now? By 2013, who knows what the handheld device landscape will look like?

That’s got some analysts scratching their heads too. Yankee Group’s Carl Howe tweeted:

"Talk about missing the market: This ‘Windows for ARM processors’available in TWO YEARS is a complete non-starter."

Shares of Intel fell slightly Wednesday, Microsoft edged slightly higher while ARM’s shares soared. Looks like both Microsoft and Intel have got some ‘splaining to do. -David

Recession’s officially over, but not according to recent tech earnings

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photo: Anita Ritenour

The recession ended back in June 2009, according to the body charged with dating when economic downturns begin and end. (Fun job, huh?) CNNMoney has all the details on that report, but don’t blow off your fingertips with a bundle of fireworks just yet.

Instead, we’re going to take a look at recent tech earnings. Those reports can reveal a lot about business spending and the economy as a whole.

Some tech companies have reported great quarterly earnings lately. Late last week, Oracle reported double-digit percentage profit and sales growth in its first quarter, on the back of rising demand for business software and servers. Research in Motion beat the naysayers, reporting quarterly profit last week that beat analysts’ expectations. The BlackBerry maker also issued an upbeat forecast.

But other big tech companies haven’t fared as well. Late last month, Intel warned investors its third-quarter revenue will fall below its forecasts due to low customer demand for PCs. Cisco Systems posted a 79% jump in quarterly profit, but revenue missed Wall Street’s expectations and the company’s sales outlook was also a slight disappointment.

So again, we’re left with tepid statements like “mixed picture,” “muddy results,” etc. That’s pretty unclear, considering the recession ended more than a year ago. -Julianne