Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced yesterday that the McAfee brand will be phased out. The products and services will live on, but as new products, or versions of existing products are introduced it will be under a new brand—Intel Security.
The news is significant because it represents the end of an era. The McAfee brand is virtually synonymous with antivirus and PC security in general. The last decade of PC security has been defined by leading brands such as Symantec and McAfee, and now the McAfee brand will fade away.
The transition is primarily a simple name change. Intel is just dropping the McAfee brand to go with a new name that directly connects the products and services to the Intel name. Beneath the surface, though, the shift is also an apt analogy for the direction security is heading, and why Intel acquired McAfee in the first place.
When people think of security, they think of names like McAfee, Symantec, Trend Micro, Webroot, and others. Those names, however, are most closely associated with PC endpoint security tools—specifically Windows PC security. They think of products that are virtually required, but tacked on after the fact to guard Windows-based PCs against viruses, worms, botnets, and other malware threats. Those are all still valid concerns, but the world has changed.
This move seems both logical and inevitable reflecting back on Intel’s purchase of McAfee in the first place. Why did Intel buy an established security brand? Because Intel was looking five years, ten years, and even further down the road at the “Internet of things.” Intel was looking at security not as an afterthought for Windows PCs, but at connected cars, refrigerators, glasses, watches, and everything else on the technological horizon—and Intel wants security to be a core element of those new technologies rather than an add-on product.
It makes sense for Intel to phase out the McAfee brand, because the separation of Intel and McAfee still implies that they’re two separate things. Intel Security more accurately portrays the relationship Intel is building between its processor technologies and security. Eventually, Intel may be able to drop the word “security” and just let the Intel brand stand alone—with an underlying assumption that security is built in.