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Rambus puts all its eggs in two baskets

Unfortunately, one of them belongs to Intel

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Following another outburst from Intel CEO Craig Barrett in yesterday's FT, in which he described the relationship with Rambus as a failed bet, it is perhaps alarming for Rambus stockholders to read in the company's end of year statement that future revenues are dependent primarily on the rollout of Sony's PS2 and Intel's Pentium 4.

In the interview Barrett admitted: "We made a big bet on Rambus and it did not work out," adding that it had been a mistake to rely on another company for technology that "gates your performance".

So while Rambus is bullish about Q4 revenues up by almost 120 per cent over last year and full year revenue up 67 per cent to $72.3 million, the devil is very much in the detail.

All financial releases these days carry a cautionary message warning about forward-looking statements, but the Rambus paragraph is very specific, and worth quoting in full:

"This release contains forward-looking statements regarding financial results for future periods. Actual results could differ materially. Among the factors which could cause results to differ materially is the possibility that the Pentium 4 and PlayStation2 ramps will be slower than expected, that shipment of Rambus ICs and other licensed products by Rambus licensees will be below forecast, that no additional licenses for SDRAM-compatible ICs will be signed, that prices of RDRAMs will remain high compared to SDRAMs and that litigation and building costs will exceed the Company’s plans."

While it's pretty safe to expect that PS2 sales won't be much of a problem, Intel's change of heart over Rambus being the best thing since sliced bread for performance desktops will almost certainly put a dent in the Mountain View company's bottom line.

And another interesting point is Rambus' warning that litigation costs might 'exceed the company's plans'. For a company currently suing the butts off world+dog, that looks increasingly likely to be the case.

As Intel's Barrett remarked:

"We hoped we were partners with a company that would concentrate on technology rather than seeking to collect a toll from other companies." ®

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