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Someone Forgot to Bring the Bag of Chips to Intel's Developer Conference

There were watches, reality TV shows and lots of robots, but you had to listen carefully for any mention of the processors that still make up nearly all of Intel's revenue.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For years, Intel’s developer forum was a testament to the core of the company’s business: PC processors.

One could count on the company to show off an array of PowerPoint slides with the latest chip roadmaps featuring vague geographic code names. For a bit of fun, an executive might hold up a wafer with the latest technology fresh from the factory.

 Former CEO Paul Otellini holds up a wafer of chips at the 2006 Intel Developer Forum.
Former CEO Paul Otellini holds up a wafer of chips at the 2006 Intel Developer Forum.

There was none of that on Monday. Instead, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich focused on the chipmaker’s other pursuits, including RealSense, its depth-sensing camera technology, which will now support a bunch of gaming and virtual reality platforms in addition to Android, Mac OS X and Windows.

Intel also brought on watchmaker Fossil to show off several wearables it has been developing with Intel. But unlike the past, when it was clear there was Intel Inside, the company declined to say which of its technologies were in the bracelets and watches that were shown onstage.

Krzanich continued his focus on hobbyist developers, announcing a partnership with Turner Broadcasting and “Survivor” creator Mark Burnett on a new reality TV competition: “America’s Greatest Makers,” which will debut next year and carry a $1 million prize.

And there were robots galore. Savioke’s Relay robot rolled onstage to deliver a Diet Coke, while Krzanich ended his talk by controlling an army of robot spiders. Robots have featured prominently in Krzanich presentations, including his appearance at Code Conference last year.

There’s no question that Intel is changing, but just how big and profitable it can be in the post-PC world remains to be seen. The company is still almost nowhere when it comes to powering phones, and much of its gains in tablets came through heavy promotions.

It is betting heavily on being able to skip past those shortcomings and regain its lead on an even smaller generation of Internet-of-Things devices, but there it competes against companies that have grown up making chips for smartphones and other power-sensitive devices.

And perhaps that’s why there were no slides this year. In many ways, Krzanich is still drawing up Intel’s next roadmap for getting back into the chip game.

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