But after Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich's keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 in Las Vegas Monday evening, it's clear the world's largest semiconductor maker is determined not to repeat that mistake with wearable technology.
It's a smart strategy; wearable technology is one of the top growth areas of consumer tech. Research firm IHS says the wearable technology market will triple from $10 billion in 2013 to $30 billion in 2018.
And growth in new markets is something Intel desperately needs.
While Intel stock rose a healthy 28% in 2013, its revenue has been stuck at around $53 billion – and has even slipped a bit over the past few years thanks to the decline in PC sales. Since the 1980s, most PCs were powered by Intel's chips – which helped the company prosper.
But Intel's chip industry reign was washed away by the wave of mobile device sales that started with the 2007 iPhone. Mobile devices are most often powered by chips made by Intel rivals Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) or Samsung Electronics (OTC: SSNLF) and based on technology licensed from ARM Holdings (Nasdaq ADR: ARMH).
Now with wearable tech still in its infancy, Intel sees an opportunity to recapture some of the sales for consumer device chips it lost to the mobile wave – and fuel a continued climb for INTC stock.
How Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) Plans to Profit from Wearable Technology
CEO Krzanich heavily emphasized wearable technology in his CES speech, unveiling several Intel-designed products including a smartwatch, earbuds that can monitor the wearer's heartbeat, and an audience favorite – a "smart" bowl that can recharge the batteries of any mobile device tossed into it.
While the products Intel is showing at CES won't appear in your local Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) any time soon – they're "reference designs," or prototypes intended to inspire other manufacturers – they prove Intel has been doing a lot of thinking about the potential of wearable technology.
And the Intel prototypes boast a key attribute not shared with all wearable tech products…