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Martin Veitch's Diary

MondayChips with everything, as the arcane tech news headline would have it.

Intel is buying Chips and Technologies. Well, that makes sense, Intel gets the leading role in notebook graphics - a nice incremental step for Mr Grove.

NatSemi is buying dear old Cyrix, the chip maker we all wanted to do well but always seemed to require the prefix "loss-making".

NatSemi is big, but not perhaps quite big enough to worry Intel unduly. After all, Intel's profits tend to outsize its biggest x86 rival's revenues and it is the only semiconductor maker with end-user marketing nous. Go figure, as they say over there.

Thankfully, NatSemi seems to be blessed with some bright people who can spot writing when its emblazoned all over the nearest wall. Accordingly, their plan is to concentrate on a sector where Intel isn't so hot: integrated processors that can be the engine for fabled sub-$500 PCs.

As former Cyrix CEO Jerry Rogers told me last November: "Six months ago Intel weren't interested [in developing a NetPC-optimised processor] and they were very vocal about it. A couple of weeks ago they started changing their minds and began staffing it up. We've been working on it for three years. Maybe Intel can do enough to be only 18 months behind."

If the archetypal Texan was correct, then Cyrix has the - MediaGX - design to cash in.

Tuesday

Now Intel wants to tell the world how to make digital cameras. Maybe I've missed something but this seems to be a market that's doing a pretty good exploding job on its own.

Digital cameras are the sort of things that have more potential to hit the target than Alan Shearer playing against Ziff-Davis's little-feared Casuals. We have one on ZDNet News and it's in constant demand by staff planning family snaps. At least that's what they say.

At the risk of getting a call from some deathly dull market research firm, these things will come free with every home PC in a couple of years, and more power to their ever-so-slightly pixellated elbows.

Wednesday

This Apple soap opera is getting silly.

The lantern-jawed icon Jobs may be coming back as chairman, says the rumour. That possibly skips the truth that his track record as a leader of multi-billion dollar firms ain't all that.

Passing the face-of-Apple lantern from the buttoned-up spreadsheet style of Amelio to the gung-ho Saint Steve suggests that this boat has lost its rudder, to mix several metaphors.

If anybody can suggest a reason why Apple will be important beyond this century, I'd be (1) happy to hear about it, and (2) surprised.

Like Sunderland Football Club, this is a joke that isn't funny anymore.

Thursday

Sun buys Diba, coolest of cool Valley startups, and claimant to pioneering the term 'information appliances' which not many people understand but everybody knows is The Next Big Thing.

Nigel Seed, European VP of Diba, who was at Sun when it was a start-up and then had Silicon Graphics here, finds himself working for Scott McNealy once again. The pleasing career symmetry is very common in this business. Diba wants to be the keystone of domestic appliances such as set-top boxes. Sun is a maker of Unix software, hardware and services. Surely a Japanese conglomerate must have sniffed around? The answer begins: "You make think that but I couldn't possibly comment."

And ends the same way.

Friday

Ay caramba, it's not like 'Laughing' Larry Ellison likes to stir the pot, is it? According to reports, the Oracle oracle says Jobs will after all go to Apple.

Speaking of matters oracular, Diba is staffed by ex-Oracle folks who claim on their Web site to be so happy to be running their own company, free of blue chip bureaucracy. Nothing talks like a dollar, as the wise man said.