What will Chipzilla eat?
Rule #1 of being a bit corporate is to understand how your operation fits in the market. One of the keys to this is "predator thinking".
Predator thinking means you need to need to fit your corporate metabolism to the market prey you seek.
A lion chases zebras, not ants or elephants. A hover fly chases aphids, not zebras.
A small consulting company might chase $100k contracts. A large corp doesn't get out of bed for opportunities worth less than $20M.
For its more recent existence, Intel has been completely x86 focused and pretty much only sells high margin chips. These are very expensive to develop, but then the prices are high (relative to other chips) and the payback is huge. Intel's corporate metabolism is structured to play this high-margin game well.
Embedded systems typically depend on very low-cost chips and this is especially true of the bottom end devices which will dominate the IoT (if it ever really takes off).
When we're talking about internet connected lightbulbs we're talking about devices that will have less than 50c of electronics in them. That is something you can do with 8-bitters and, perhaps at a stretch bottom-end ARM devices. It is not something you can do with an Atom.
Remember, it isn't just the CPU cost that matters. It is also the associated power supply etc. A low-power Atom needs a very low ripple power supply which is large and expensive. An AVR (or similar) can work with a voltage from 1.8-6V (or even wider) and any level of ripple you throw at it. That just needs three or four passive components that cost less than 5c all up.
But back to the corporate metabolism... Intel is geared around high margin chips making many dollars per chip. Can they re-jig the company to be able to be profitable on low-margin devices that make them a penny or two?