Column: With new MacBook, Ultrabook, and tablet processors, it's game time for Intel
It’s fall, football season is underway, and it’s make or break time for Intel Corporation. The chipmaker has a new quarterback in CEO Brian Krzanich, and a refreshed lineup. Haswell processors are finally hitting the shelves in force, and Bay Trail – destined for tablets and low-end notebooks – will make its first appearance in the next few months. October marks the release of Windows 8.1 and, with a wave of new machines hitting the market, the PC industry is positioned for a strong performance this holiday season.
Anything less would be a disappointment. Haswell has extended laptop battery life into the 8- to 10-hour range that was once only seen in tablets and smartphones. With Windows 8, Microsoft opened the door for new, more mobile form factors. Collectively, the PC world is fielding one of the most aggressive teams it’s ever had – and if it fails to impress, we should be worried.
Amidst the gloom of falling computer sales, there have been some hopeful signs. For one thing, prices are holding up. Earnings statements from five of the largest PC vendors – HP, Dell, Apple, Acer and Lenovo – show that revenue per unit has remained steady since at least the beginning of 2011. At the same time, tablets and smartphones have been racing towards lower price points, a trend that may account for some of their growth. Additionally, while global PC shipments fell 11% year-over-year in the second quarter, the decline stateside was less than 2%. The US has historically been a leading indicator, and slowing declines suggest that the market may be bottoming out.