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"No One Can Slow Us Down"

Intel 's new boss's aim : too find new uses and users for computers

"No One Can Slow Us Down"
WHEN Dr Craig Barrett, 58, Intel’s new president and chief operating off icer, says it is "frightening" to step into the shoes of three legends in the semiconductor industry— his predecessors Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove— he may be just humouring interviewers by the achievements of the troika. Though known more as the behind-the-scenes manufacturing man responsible for Intel’s gigantic strides in pushing microchip technology, Barrett seems to have got a hang of selling technology just the way Grove did. A couple of weeks ago, in a meeting with Chinese president Jiang Zemin in Beijing, Barrett so impressed Jiang with the possibilities offered by video conferencing that the president decided to install a personal facility at home and another in Shanghai to communicate with his grand children there.

"Those are the sort of things government leaders have to do to set the example for the rest of the country. It is in the best interests of everybody here," Barrett says as he jets from Chennai to Bangalore to Delhi on a two-day sojourn in India last week. The objective of his second trip in a year: to get a feel of the overall market and make sure Intel relationships are functioning smoothly. Barrett’s philosophy is simple: find new uses for computers and new users for computers. Says he: "In this is a very simple motivating factor for us. It brings us business."

It sure does. But for Intel to do good business in India like it is doing in China and Brazil— the two other giant emerging markets— Barrett has a three-point prescription: government has to create strong infrastru cture for future competitiveness. Academic institutions have to place greater emphasis on technology, computer engineering and electronics in general. And industry has to work closely with the two to make this happen." Sounds simple? Not really when, for instance, Barrett points out that the future of computing depends on the networked PC and that India has one telephone to a 100 people while Brazil has 12.

But in true Intel style, that is seen as an opportunity rather than a barrier. Push the computer industry, increase processor power, find new uses and users, so what if the DoT telephone line connecting the PC groans to send e-mail as fast as the Pentium chip wants it to. When computer usage grows roots, infr astru cture providers will be forced to act, Intel hopes. Says Barrett: "If we don’t push the industry someone else will. Anyone who tries to slow us down will get run over. It’ll be like standing in front of an elephant."

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