Intel's McAfee Buy: 3 Things it Could Mean

The antivirus vendor is expected to become a subsidiary for the chip giant; here's what might emerge from such an alliance.

With gloomy talk of ever-evolving security threats on the Internet, Intel announced that it's acquiring the antivirus software vendor McAfee.

McAfee will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel, so don't expect any drastic changes to the PC security software McAfee already offers. So what's the deal with this $7.68 billion acquisition? I have a few theories:

The Boring Answer: Intel Wants McAfee's Acquisitions

As TechCrunch points out, McAfee recently acquired Trust Digital and TenCube, both of which deal in mobile security. The former provides enterprise protection for smartphones, including the iPhone, and the latter is the maker of WaveSecure, software that's available to consumers for Android, Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile phones.

The Wacky Answer: Intel Computing

Let's not forget Meego, the operating system Intel and Nokia are developing together for smartphones, tablets and netbooks. For Meego to take off, it'll need to be secure, and Intel will have better luck with its own security company.

The Realistic Answer: Security for a Changing Intel

A comment to Reuters from Renee James, head of Intel's software and services group, is most telling: "We have lots of activities going on in growing connected devices ... from connected television to mobile devices," she said, adding that Intel believes it can enhance security with hardware.

Intel's press release speaks of "a product" to be introduced next year. Given Intel's push into television with Google TV, and mobile devices with the upcoming Medfield smartphone chip, my guess is that Intel will launch one security product that's tied to all its new hardware ventures, a kind of guarantee that when you buy a connected device powered by Intel, it'll be safe from threats on the Internet.

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Tags business issuesmcafeeconsumer electronicsMergers / acquisitionssymbiansecurityNokiaPhonesintel

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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