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Intel cuts off wireless networking gear

The chipmaker quietly exits the market for wireless networking products to focus its efforts on its Centrino technology.

Chipmaker Intel has discontinued sales of its branded wireless networking products to focus on its Centrino technology.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company quietly stopped selling its Intel Pro/Wireless 2011, 2011B, 2000/5000 and Xircom Wireless branded products in February 2003, according to the company's Web site.

"We transitioned from our branded products to providing building blocks for other products," Dan Francisco, an Intel spokesman, said Thursday.

The chipmaker in March introduced Centrino, which is a bundle of chips that consists of Intel's Pentium M chip, chipset and wireless module.

All the major PC makers, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and IBM, use Centrino technology in some of their notebooks.

Intel kicked off a $300 million marketing campaign earlier this year to promote Centrino and wireless networking. The company has also helped PC makers develop wireless networking products by creating reference designs for the gear such as the Intel Media Adapter.

However, Intel's enthusiasm about wireless networking may have been too much, too soon, according to Intel President Paul Otellini.

Wireless networking technology "Wi-Fi is in danger of being overhyped, and to some degree we may be guilty of that by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on our Centrino advertising campaign," he said earlier this week at the Telecosm Conference in Squaw Valley, Calif.

Otellini added that the popularity of Wi-Fi has led to tremendous pricing pressure for chips, but that's the nature of the business.

"That's life," he said. "Welcome to the semiconductor business."