Intel Bids McAfee Name Adieu: Does It Matter?
In February 2011, Intel completed its $7.68 billion acquisition of security vendor McAfee. It's a deal that brought the extensive technology assets as well as the trusted McAfee brand to Intel.
Now nearly three years after the deal closed, Intel has decided that though the technology is strong, the McAfee brand itself should go away. The new plan from Intel is to gradually phase out the McAfee name for all new technology security products. Instead, Intel will leverage its own powerful brand with the name "Intel Security."
Intel Security will keep one element of the McAfee brand—the McAfee shield.
John McAfee, the eccentric founder of McAfee, is reportedly very happy that his name will no longer be associated with Intel's security assets.
"I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet," McAfee told the BBC. "These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users. My elation at Intel's decision is beyond words."
Mr. McAfee is likely a key reason for Intel deciding to lose the McAfee brand as he has been a vocal opponent of the current McAfee technology. In a 2013 YouTube video that has been viewed over 4 million times, Mr. McAfee sarcastically explains how to uninstall McAfee Antivirus software, while making fun of his alleged playboy lifestyle of excess.
Looking beyond Mr. McAfee himself, there is little doubt that the value of the Intel brand is substantially greater to consumers than that of McAfee. Intel is known and trusted and by extending the Intel brand to the security sphere, the company is aiming to build on that trust in a domain that demands the highest levels of trust and integrity.
By more closely aligning McAfee technology with Intel through the new Intel brand, Intel will also likely be more easily able to bundle security as a feature of its platforms. Consumers have long been bombarded with free 30-day trial software from security vendors, but what if Intel Security just comes preloaded with Intel platforms? Consumers would likely just assume and rightly associate the security with Intel processors and platforms as a logical extension.
During his Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 keynote, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that his plan was to extend Intel Security for mobile and to offer it for free. Security is perhaps a barrier to adoption of some of the new embedded, wearable and mobile technologies. If that technology has security embedded from the same vendor that makes the silicon, I strongly suspect that consumers and enterprises alike will more likely than not embrace the complete solution.
In the final analysis, that's what the McAfee rebrand is all about. It's not just about distancing the company brand from an eccentric founder; rather, it's about tying the total platform solution together with a strong Intel brand from end to end.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.