Does Intel Buying McAfee Have Any Impact On Open Source

Could open source be a spoiler in Intel's 8b dollar buy?

The big news in tech today is of course Intel buying McAfee, in a deal valued at about 7.7 billion dollars. Hey, we are all friends here, lets round it off at an even 8b. That is a lot of money to pay! Many analysts are asking themselves why (here and here). The general consensus is that Intel is really serious about security (does my heart good). Good for Intel I don' t believe that for a second. I think this deal is all about mobile devices and mobile computing security. I think Intel has made a huge misstep here and the reason maybe they don't understand open source software (one could argue they don't understand software at all).

Companies large and small always say security is important to them, but usually their hands are too short to reach their pockets.  When a company, even one the size of Intel digs in for 8 BIG ones, that is way more than what is usually associated with the "security is important" story.

No Intel realizes that the shift is on. Away from desktop and laptop computers running the x86 architecture which they have monopolized for 30 or more years to a mobile crowd using a lot of non-intel chips. They need to be a player in this market because it will be the dominant tech market in the years ahead. They perceive that McAfee had some mobile security plays in motion. Grabbing a stake in mobile security is a way of grabbing a stake in mobile.

What Intel doesn't grep though is that this ain't Windows.  Today's mobile platforms, many of which are open source have not abdicated their responsibility around security like early Windows versions did. In systems like Android, ChromeOS and other mobile specific operating systems and apps, security has been built in from the ground up, not grafted on later.

Even in open source MeeGo of which Intel is a prime sponsor, the security is much stronger and much more holistic than in the desktop OS.  Apple maybe a black box, anti-open source company,  but they have built security into the iOS as well.  

So grasping an 8b dollars straw around mobile security will not make Intel a mobile powerhouse. In the meantime, will McAfee wither away under Intel's stewardship as the McAfee team gets fat and lazy digesting their 8b payday? Or maybe they look for the next silicon valley company to build and leave McAfee-Intel?

In the meanwhile, like young saplings stretching to the light after fire has cleared the old growth forrest, a new crop of open source security tools will quickly step into fill the void left my McAfee.  They will be geared towards today's threats and today's computing environments.  

Many are saying that even Microsoft could become irrelevant in the brave new world of mobile computing.  This move by Intel shows that they are afraid of the same thing perhaps. Buying McAfee may not change that either.

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