With Wind River, Can Intel Grab Some Apple Mojo?

Just how serious is Intel about breaking into new markets?

The chipmaker made that abundantly clear today, announcing it will acquire Wind River Systems, a maker of software for embedded devices, for $11.50 a share in cash, or about $884 million. The deal marks a 44% premium to Wind River’s June 3 closing price.

With the purchase, is Intel picking up some cues with its partnership with Apple? No doubt, the chipmaker is known best for its manufacturing prowess. But it has always had a big group of software engineers who work on ways to optimize Intel’s chips for everyday uses.

Intel, for instance, teamed up with Real to develop streaming media software that’s widely used today to transmit audio and video over the Web.

But the Wind River purchase points to an increased emphasis on selling or using that software with finished devices. The company earlier this year announced a new collaboration with contract manufacturer TSMC to create customized chips.

Coupled with its focus on developing the Linux-based Moblin operating system for handheld devices such as netbooks, the chipmaker is making clear that the Apple-like strategy of pairing hardware and software is the way to go.

Wind River helps companies develop and manage device software for embedded systems and wireless products.

Intel is betting that its Atom chip family will drive new growth. The company hopes to notch billion more in profits over the next few years, and it making these big moves to make it happen.

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