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IoT Shift? Intel Reportedly Eliminates Wearables Division

Partners tell CRN they have seen Intel up its focus on building partnerships around solutions in vertical markets, including retail, industrial and video.

Intel's Internet of Things business has undergone massive changes over the past year – the company revealed in a series of product updates in June that it is axing its Edison, Galileo and Joule IoT compute modules. Meanwhile, according to a report this week, Intel also eliminated its wearables division in 2016, an anonymous source told CNBC.

Intel, however, said that it is continuing to invest in its IoT business, which in the company's first quarter of 2017 grew 11 percent over the year-earlier quarter.

"IoT remains an important growth business for Intel and we are committed to IoT market segments that access, analyze and share data. These include retail, industrial, automotive and video, which will drive billions of connected devices made smarter with Intel," an Intel spokesperson told CRN.

[Related: Intel CEO: We're Poised To 'Compete And Win' In Cloud And IoT This Year]

Intel, Santa Clara, Calif., declined to comment on the reported elimination of its wearables business.

The Galileo board and Edison platform were unveiled in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Intel Joule, which includes a 570x and 550x compute module and a 570x and 550x developer kit, was unveiled at Intel Developer Forum in 2016.

According to Intel's June product update, the company told OEMs that they have until December 2017 to order its IoT modules, including Edison and Galileo.

"In a bigger-picture perspective I feel Intel was a follower in [the IoT module] market segment and is better served by focusing its resources in other IoT areas where they can take a leadership position, and leverage their proprietary technology and strategic partnerships," said Martin Smekal, president and CEO of Torrance, Calif.-based Intel partner TabletKiosk.

On the wearables and smart devices side of Intel's business, the company shelled out $100 million to acquire fitness device manufacturer Basis Science in 2014 and build up its IoT strategy in the health-care space around smartwatches. The Basis watches, however, posed a challenge after some of the watches started overheating, leading to a safety recall in 2016.

Intel partners, for their part, see the chip company's focus intensifying around supplying processors, sensors and wireless connectivity to IoT devices, and building partnerships around solutions in vertical markets – including retail, industrial and video.

"[Intel] had their hands in many areas to see where things might go. They seem to have found some areas to focus in on," said Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at Ontario, Calif.-based solution provider Sigmanet.

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