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Intel CEO takes on Postman Pat

Intel's Barrett pins company future on broadband Internet

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Intel CEO Craig Barrett admitted today that he had been "wound up" by claims that use of email and the Internet is waning.

Indeed, he reserved special vitriol for British institution Postman Pat - and, by extension, the Post Office itself - chosen by the UK's Guardian newspaper to illustrate a feature asking whether the email bubble has burst?

"Postman Pat's days are numbered," the leader of the world's largest chip company threatened.

Perhaps he knows too much....

Whatever, 'Uncle' Craig was in town to address a select audience - ie. customers - and present his vision for the future of the company in the post-dotcom era.

Repeatedly, he stressed that the Internet remains the most important business, communications and entertainment medium and thus a key driver for Intel's sales. He also made it clear that the driving force behind this vision of the Internet is broadband networking. The implication: broadband Internet access will drive the adoption of the high-end PCs needed to create and access the kind of "rich content" (to use Barrett's words) that broadband makes it possible to deliver.

We have the client and server technology, said one of Barrett's colleagues during the show. "The only missing piece is the bandwidth."

Broadly, we'd agree with Barrett, but the question remains: when will this broadband world he envisages come to pass?

Intel isn't sure. Said one staffer running one of his boss' demonstrations: Broadband is "inevitable... hopefully."

Barrett did at least criticise pay-per-minute Internet dial-up as "archaic" and went on to praise the UK for its early adoption (among European states) for flat-rate dial-up charges. We'd suggest he take a look at our FRIACO coverage before making such a claim again.

Equally, he might like to listen to many of our readers' tales of life with ADSL before claiming the UK is one of the broadband leaders.

Actually, we reckon Barrett knows where the problem lies - as he himself said: "I've told Mr [not, you'll note, 'Sir Peter'] Bonfield that several times."

He was also remarkably honest about the dotcom bubble - in a spin-doctored kind of way, mind you - and tacitly admitted that Intel's stock was overvalued at the peak of dotcom mania. Speaking of tech stocks such as his own, Barrett noted that the "tide rose with the [dotcoms'] valuation... a bit early and out of proportion".

But despite the bursting of the bubble, he said, the Internet continues to grow around the world - he cited India, China and South America as opportunity markets - and that will provide expanding markets for client, server and infrastructure hardware, even if the US and European markets stagnate. ®

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