Intel Has Big Plans For Small New Chip

Sep.26.13 | About: Intel Corporation (INTC)

One of the things we like about Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), besides that so-catchy four-tone chime, is how it tries to stay a couple of trends ahead of the rest of the marketplace.

It's not news to tech followers that desktop sales continue to slide, an industry that used to be the chip maker's bread and butter, as Intel devices powered countless home PCs and dual-core Apples (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Much of the last decade was spent promoting these zippy processors, including memorable commercials showing the revelry and efficiency that goes on deep inside a typical computer.

Now, as the public is migrating to smartphones and tablets for their primary means of interacting with each other, some tech companies are focusing more and more on improving mobile technology, such as more bells and whistles on phones, tablets and the in-between "phablets".

But Intel is trying a different tack - according to IStockAnalyst, it's passing on making its own bigger and better phone, and focusing on what's called wearable technology -- small, low-powered chips that power items that can be used in novel places such as watches, eyewear or clothing.

The chips will power mini-computers which potentially can have all sorts of uses, such as keeping track of steps walked, remembering appointments, playing music or sharing basic data. They also can sync with nearby electronic devices so you potentially can interact with your environment in new ways like keeping track of your exercise regimen or what stores you frequent.

Earlier this week, Intel announced a new smaller, better chip, called the Quark, which is a fifth of the size of Intel's Atom chip and uses a tenth of the power.

With the Quark, Intel is fully entering the wearable technology arena, an area which Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is already exploring with Glass, a set of spectacles that let you connect to the Internet. Bloomberg says the wearable tech market is expected to double from $9.3 billion this year to $18.8 billion by 2016.

Investors seemed interested in Intel's new venture.

The stock price moved slightly higher earlier this week, up 5.15 percent from the last few days.

Share prices have actually been in a decline since a high of $25 in June 2013, but its current climb began in September from a low of $21.91. Current trading is between $23 and $24 per share.

The company also has been performing poorly even longer, from an investment perspective, posting a -10.9 percent loss over the last year.

But the news about the Quark is definitely encouraging to investors wondering about whether to sell or hang onto their stock.

This isn't the only exciting piece of developing technology in the works from Intel.

One of the company's researchers just introduced "Jimmy" to the world. Jimmy is a programmable robot, which owners can command via a smartphone app. Jimmy can be customized to every customer's specifications and perform a variety of tasks.

What's also cool about him is that all of Jimmy's plans are open sourced, which means that you can make your own from a kit, or at least find someone to make one for you using the official plans.

Experts expect the Jimmy kit to be available for $500-$1,000, and the plans can be printed out with a 3D printer.

While robot research doesn't have a lot of implications for Intel's overall stock price, it does show that Intel encourages innovation in not just its core products but among its employees. Robot research is still considered to be in the tech novelty stage right now, but in the future could be increasingly vital to our lives.

Intel is also looking for ways to make life easier for business customers. It recently began coordinating with Arrow Electronics (NYSE:ARW) to offer extra support and integration in better using Intel products.

Bloomberg said Arrow Electronics has launched the "x86 Influencer Program" which gives North America customers additional tools to strengthen their Intel sales business. This strategic alliance includes additional training in Intel solutions, new analytic methods plus more integration support, for the enterprise server market.

This is encouraging news for both public companies, which have worked together in the past but officially formalized the agreement.

Overall, Intel's continuing interest in innovation and interest in remaining ahead of the pack may be beneficial to investors in the long haul.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.