Intel to scrap McAfee name, give away mobile security tools

Will transition to 'Intel Security' in 2014, putting space between it and John McAfee, erratic founder of the 27-year-old firm

Intel this week said it would ditch the venerable McAfee brand for its security products and services, and offer free mobile security software to customers running Android, iOS and other operating systems on their smartphones and tablets.

The company announced both moves at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the massive trade show that wraps up today in Las Vegas.

McAfee is one of the oldest brands in computer security, a name that's been in use most of the years since its 1987 founding, even as the company changed hands several times. But Intel wants to shed the brand this year for "Intel Security" in a staged roll-out as products update.

"We aren't making the move lightly, we're not divorcing entirely," said Mike Fey, the CTO of McAfee in an interview this week, adding that Intel will retain the long-used logo, a red shield with the letter "M" dominant. "Outside the U.S., McAfee actually doesn't translate well, but Intel is [an] understood [brand]."

Intel bought McAfee in 2010 in a deal valued at $7.7 billion. The acquisition was completed in February 2011.

Fey denied that the name change had been triggered by the erratic behavior of its founder and namesake, John McAfee, who in 2012 made headlines after he fled Belize, where authorities wanted to question him in the death of his neighbor. McAfee turned up in Guatemala, and in December 2012 authorities there expelled him to the U.S., where he currently lives.

Last year, John McAfee released an over-the-top profanity-, sex- and drug image-laced video -- which has collected over 4.6 million viewings -- where he blasted the software carrying his surname. In December, after talk of Intel changing its security brand surfaced, John McAfee pleaded on his website for help in making that happen. "I would be thrilled to finally free myself, my image, and my name," he said.

After Intel's announcement this week, John McAfee tweeted, "To the company formerly known as McAfee: Thank you! Thank you!"

It seems the feelings were mutual.

"As an employee, I'm happy to separate," said Fey as he argued that buyers did not associate John McAfee with the company he started. "He's been out of IT for almost 20 years," Fey noted.

Along with the name change, Intel also said it would give away a stand-alone mobile security product, whose name hasn't been finalized, to device owners.

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