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Otellini becomes part of what Intel called its "two-person" executive office, along with Craig Barrett, the company's chief executive officer. The change takes effect immediately, Intel said.
Otellini will oversee the chip maker's internal operations, including the development and delivery of new products, as well as the productivity and efficiency of its business, the company said in a statement. Barrett remains in charge of long-term corporate strategy and planning.
"There hasn't been a lot of focus on Intel management succession for a while," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight 64. But, with Barrett only three years away from Intel's mandatory retirement age, Intel needs to make sure it has a potential replacement lined up, Brookwood said. "The cards are now falling into place and it seems like Otellini will be Barrett's successor."
Otellini is the first person to hold the chief operating officer position who did not train as an engineer, physicist or chemist, Brookwood said. "That's breaking new ground for Intel," he said. Otellini earned a bachelor's degree in economics, followed by a master of business administration (MBA).
Otellini takes the position at a difficult time for the high-tech industry, which has wrestled with falling demand for its products in a weak economy. The chip maker also has had to contend with the industry's shift in focus away from personal computers, a mainstay of its microprocessor business, and the emergence of newer computing platforms such as handheld computers and "smart" mobile phones.