The grass is definitely greener on the consumer side of the fence in 2010. Companies that have built their businesses on their ability to sell to the enterprise, or that are a step or two removed from direct access to the consumer, are looking for a the gate through the fence. Increasingly mobile is that gate, and it appears that Intel thinks McAfee is their best shot at getting over there.
It is much more fun as a writer to be negative on announcements like this -- and the business press is having their share of fun with Intel. Anyone that wants the business press to be positive should remember not to surprise them. A few good leaks will get some of the journalists onto your side ahead of the announcement. With the exception of Steve Jobs, who gets to play by a different set of rules, scoop equals page views, page views equals happy writers, happy writers equals "this is a brilliant idea".
Intel depends on the PC makers to get its chips to market and has managed to dominate that business over the years through business tactics that just keep getting them in trouble with the Justice department and the EU. The top PC makers in the world control over half of the sales of new PCs including HP (18%), Dell (13%), Acer (12%), Lenovo (10%), and Asus and Toshiba tied (5% each). The industry is on the rebound, up 22% in Q2, so everyone is growing. However, HP and Dell are growing only slightly, and the other guys are smokin' with growth rates up to 87% (Asus).
The deal to buy McAfee may or may not be a good idea, but it does signal Intel's concern over its traditional route to market, and its corresponding desire to find a new route. Their best domestic friends are getting pounded by the guys in Asia, and they are increasingly prevented from pulling monopolistic stunts, so I would guess there will be more deals to follow.