Intel Rebranding Cuts to the ‘Core’

It’s back to basics for Intel. Wednesday the chip giant announced in a blog post that it plans to overhaul its marketing message with a focus on its “Core” line of microprocessors.

The blog, by corporate communications manager Bill Calder, says Core will be positioned as Intel’s (NASDAQ: INTC) primary “hero client brand” distinct from what he says is currently “a mind boggling array of derivatives (such as Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad, etc).” Over time, Calder says those derivative brands will go away and be replaced by a simplified family of Core processors covering multiple levels: the Intel Core i3 processor, Intel Core i5 processor and Intel Core i7 processor.

The i3 and i5 are new modifiers, while the i7 has been previously announced. Core will be the primary brand with i3, i5 and i7 signaling different features and benefits. One example, Intel’s upcoming desktop chip, codenamed Lynnfield, will carry the Intel Core brand, but be available as either Core i5 or i7 depending on the feature set.

Other well known Intel brands continue. The Celeron brand remains for entry-level computing and Pentium for basic computing. Intel is also just ramping up and will continue to market its hot-selling Atom line designed for netbooks and smartphones.

“For PC purchasing, think in terms of good-better-best with Celeron being good, Pentium better, and the Intel Core family representing the best we have to offer,” Calder said in his post.

The Centrino brand remains but will have a new role. Calder said the Centrino brand for desktops is being phased out this year in favor of Core. However, Intel plans to transition the Centrino brand to its Wi-Fi and WiMAX products starting next year. “Centrino has tremendous equity as a wireless technology,” said Calder.

Intel is making one more branding change related to security; the vPro technology brand will be paired with Intel Core, specifically, either the Core i5 or i7.

No pain, no gain?

While the aim is to simplify, Calder concedes the brand transition will take time during which customers will see multiple brands in the market including the new and older ones into next year.

“But overall this is a good thing, designed to make it easier and more rational over the long run,” he said.

Intel invited reader comments on the blog post and some of them were none too kind, complaining the changes are less than straightforward.

“I buy a Core 2 Duo, I’m getting a 2 core processor made out of Core 2. Usually the clock speed is advertised as well. I buy a Core i5 who knows what the hell I’m getting except maybe Intel marketing,” said someone named John.

Other comments dinged Intel for the i3, i5 and i7 numbering scheme.

“I have to agree with others – why 3-5-7? Why not 9-10-11? Or peanutbutter-jelly-mayo?” said WorknMan.

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