Bloomberg wrong about Intel’s woes

Opinion: Logic error or verification error?

Intel logo 63x58 Bloomberg wrong about Intels woesA week ago, Bloomberg put out a story about Clover Trail CPU/SoC delaying Windows 8 tablets because of Intel’s software problems. The problem with the story is that it is flat out incorrect and that is easily verifiable. In our opinion, it is an unethical hatchet job.

The story in question, found here, basically says that an unnamed person close to the process says that the power controller’s software was delayed and has not been approved by Microsoft. This is holding up development of the entire Clover Trail tablet ecosystem. Bloomberg goes on at length quoting multiple analysts about how awful this will be for the PC ecosystem, and they all drone on without questioning the basic premise, the software is late and not certified. If Intel did delay their software, it would have a very negative effect on Clover Trail based Windows 8 tablets.

SemiAccurate was intrigued by the story, and spent most of the last week hunting down how this monumental screw-up could have happened. In our eyes, the chip is a dog that is chained to an albatross, then thrown under a bus, but that does not imply anything about driver readiness. Garbage though it is, within a few hours of asking around on the hardware and software side, we couldn’t find a single person to verify the Bloomberg story.

On the contrary, two of the first three OEMs that we asked about this said that they had Clover Trail tablets done, certified, and they would be on sale at launch. To make matters worse, both said that they had these certifications done before the Bloomberg story was printed, significantly before. The third company was not planning on doing a Clover Trail tablet until the market proved it would sell.

When we followed up with Intel, their spokesman wrote, “We expect Clover Trail will be time to market for the Windows 8 launch to support our customers.” not exactly a thrilling riposte, but this is an official statement. Intel does not officially comment on companies using their products, and Clover Trail will not be sold directly to consumers. Other Intel sources, both in the US and Taiwan, said the software for the power control unit on Clover Trail was both finished and certified long before the Bloomberg article. Both of the tablet designs SemiAccurate had earlier heard were certified were confirmed, and more than one other was strongly hinted at.

One other bit of information, this power control unit driver story has been floating on the rumor mills for quite a while. SemiAccurate heard it long before Bloomberg wrote it up, and tracked it back to the source, a company with a product in direct competition to Clover Trail. When Bloomberg wrote it up, we assumed that they fact checked it and found out that for once, it was not simply indirect FUD that could have been countered with a quick call to Intel.

When asked about the situation, Intel gave several bits of information to Bloomberg. ““We’re excited about the opportunity for Windows 8 tablets with a broad range of” Intel chips, Carvill said. “We’ve collaborated very closely with Microsoft in extensive testing and validation” for chips, he said.“, “Tablets and laptops convertible into tablets built on Clover Trail will be available Oct. 26, said Jon Carvill, a spokesman for Santa Clara, California-based Intel.” Please note that some of this is a direct quote from an Intel spokesperson, some is paraphrased, please read and parse the Bloomberg story to see this. Intel does however say that there will be Clover Trail based tablets available on the first day of the Windows 8 launch, directly countering the main premise of the Bloomberg article. There is only one single source, the initially referenced and nebulous “person with knowledge of the matter” that backs up the claim of software lateness and non-certification.

SemiAccurate found it borderline trivial to verify the incorrect nature of the ‘fact’ underlying this story from no less than three independent sources. Bloomberg seems to have had one incorrect source, likely from a direct competitor to Intel, and simply ignored a direct statement about the claim from Intel itself. Luckily, the Bloomberg authors contacted many other sources to add flavor and gravity to their story.

Bloomberg went through the effort of getting lengthy quotes, analysis, and numbers from Alex Gauna of JMP Securities, Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft, Dean McCarron of Mercury Research, Chris Danely of JPMorgan, CJ Muse of Barclays Plc, and Doug Friedman of RBC Capital Markets. All commented on how bad for the industry it would be if the software in question was late, and all commented reasonably correctly given the initial premise that the power control software is not certified. Except that it was certified before Bloomberg published.

The Bloomberg authors contacted six analysts, none of which are directly connected with Microsoft, Intel, or any OEM. Bloomberg mentions that there was an event in the week prior to publication where Acer, Asustek, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Samsung all displayed Clover Trail tablets. Not a single one of these OEMs were quoted for the story. That leads this author to believe that they were either not contacted, or like Intel, contradicted the very premise of this story and were then conveniently ignored. There was an awful lot of time spent getting doom and gloom hearsay from analysts, but nothing from any OEM listed. Doesn’t that seem a bit odd?

In the end, we get to witness an astounding failure of journalistic ethics from Bloomberg. While SemiAccurate can not find a listing of their code of ethics on line, we did find one for their sister site Bloomberg Businessweek, and will assume the two are similar if not the same. From SemiAccurate’s point of view, it looks like just about every one of the so called journalistic standards, Accuracy, Honesty, Fairness, and Attribution were at best given lip service to. The editorial side is a bit more subjective, but you do have to wonder why the editor didn’t question the viability of the article based on the Intel comment and any lack of OEM verification.

If SemiAccurate can find no less than three sources that directly countered the premise of the article, you have to wonder why Bloomberg could not find a single one. They seem to have ignored a direct contrary statement from Intel, did not provide a single OEM/device manufacturer statement, but did put in half a dozen comments from analysts who are not directly involved with the products. If the basic premise that the software is late and un-certified was correct, these lapses would be forgivable. Unfortunately it is not correct, and that was trivially verifiable, even Intel said so. This wasn’t an expose, it looks to us like a hatchet job, Bloomberg should be ashamed of itself.S|A

Editor’s Note: In the process of researching this story, SemiAccurate verified that two OEMs will have hard product launches of Clover Trail tablets on October 26, 2012. Several more were mentioned but not confirmed by a second source. We can also verify that the power controller software was Microsoft certified for Windows 8 prior to Bloomberg’s publication of their story.

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 Bloomberg wrong about Intels woes

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.