Outgoing Intel CEO Paul Otellini recently revealed a missed opportunity that could have drastically altered the company’s prospects for the better. During a recent interview with The Atlantic, Otellini said he passed up on an opportunity to have Intel silicon inside the original iPhone. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20 / 20.
Otellini said there was a chip that Apple was interested in and they wanted to pay a certain price for it – not a nickel more. At the end of the day, the price was below Intel’s forecasted cost and it wasn’t something they could make up on volume. As such, Intel ended up not winning it or passing on it, depending on how you want to view it.
Of course, this was all well before the first iPhone launched so nobody knew the impact it would have on the mobile phone industry at the time. Apple ultimately went with an ARM-based chip and well, the rest is history.
To make matters even worse, Otellini said the forecasted cost of the chip Apple was interested in was wrong and the volume ended up being 100x what anyone thought. He told the publication his gut instinct was to say yes but the data at the time suggested otherwise. As you could imagine, the executive expressed visible remorse when telling the story.
Who knows how different the iPhone would have been with an Intel chip inside but one thing is for sure: Intel’s bottom line would certainly look better today.