Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Intel Q1 '13 - the pre-cursor of things to come

In spite of a dramatic 14% slow down in the PC market, Intel results came in on track. More importantly is their commentary on what's coming:

"Amidst market softness, Intel performed well in the first quarter and I'm excited about what lies ahead for the company," said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO. "We shipped our next generation PC microprocessors, introduced a new family of products for micro-servers and will ship our new tablet and smartphone microprocessors early this quarter. We are working with our customers to introduce innovative new products across multiple operating systems. The transition to 14nm technology this year will significantly increase the value provided by Intel architecture and process technology for our customers and in the marketplace."

With the arrival of Centerton for micro servers, Haswell for notebooks and desktops and Clovertrail + for phones - Intel is about to unleash a tidal wave of new products that are going to make them fiercely more competitive. Couple that with 14nm which puts them so far ahead of the other semiconductor manufacturers and they are on a trajectory that is going to make them an unreal phenomenon.

Follow that up with Baytrail for tablets later this year and they will have delivered a knock out punch to every one of their competitors. AMD is already talking about moving to ARM. Leaving Intel the sole contendor in the X86 business. Which makes their core business around PCs unassailable. And with RT looking like it's dying a quick and painful death, Microsoft will have to consider re-aligning themselves back to Intel. While Intel with their support for both Windows and Android will be sitting pretty.

Looks like while everyone else was playing checkers, Intel was playing chess!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Dual Core Intel Clovertrail + crushes the Galaxy S IV's a nugget. The upcoming Lenovo K900 featuring the Intel Clovertrail + dual core CPU takes down the to be launched Samsung Galaxy S IV running a quad core ARM CPU.

For those of you who thought Intel didn't have the architecture to compete in the phone business...think again. They're just getting started. And when Merrifield arrives it's going to be very hard for the OEMs to resist building phones on Intel sillicon.

Couple that with the launch of Bay Trail for tablets this year and things are about to get very interesting for the ARM players. I anticipate by the time we exit 2014 Intel will have gone from 0 to double digit share in tablets and and at least 5-10% of the smartphone market.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Apple apologizes in China - getting ready for a world of low cost iPhones?

After being hounded by the Chinese media for discriminatory consumer practices in China, Tim Cook today apologized to the people of China.

Tim Cook apologizes to China

You gotta wonder why such a mighty giant whose guiding principle has been "consumers don't know what they want - Apple needs to tell them" is kowtowing to the People's Republic of China.

I tell you simply, they are running out of steam in the US and Western Europe and are looking to the next frontier...China.
But here's the rub. The entry level iPhone 5 in China is 850 USD.
And to succeed in China you cannot do it with one model starting at 850$.

Which is why why Samsung is #1 in China followed by Lenovo. Both have a range of smartphones but more importantly - can get into the volume market at 200-300$ smartphones.

So Apple is going to have to bring in a low cost iPhone if they want to win in China.
And that is going to hit their margins.

But clearly Tim Cook understands the need to bow before the largest consumer population in the world. Because if they don't take a bite of his apple - he's getting thrown out of the Garden of Eden.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

It's time for a change

It's been 3 years since I've been here. Much has changed. AMD is a spent force. Trying desperately to stay alive...forget being relevant.

However, a new challenger has arisen. ARM has created an alternative for Intel where none existed before. What Intel was to PCs - ARM is to the new world of tablets and phones.

However, the real threat to Intel is not merely ARM. It is the myriad of Operating Systems that are emerging in the tablet/phone space. iOS, Android, Windows 8, Tizen, Firefox - and who knows what else may happen.

Into this fractured world - comes the reality that scaling your architecture for 1 OS (Windows) on the PC business is vastly different from enabling it for 3-4-5 OSes. Specially when you are the challenger. And the risk of not supporting that OS fast enough is market share.

What should Intel's strategy be...? How do they create the scale they need to be a major player in phones and tablets?

Predictions I made - 3 years later


Things are too busy to get to the blog regularly. But I thought I'd go back and look at a couple of things I predicted and how they turned out.

The Apple effectThe first thing I wanted to touch on was my prediction of where Apple was heading and it's impact to the industry. Essentially I predicted that Apple would eventually generate significant revenues from content and user experience and would extend their hardware strategy to every touch point where they believed they could deliver connected content to the end user. And that unless other IT companies like Dell and HP had a strategy to own the end user experience and monetize it - they would be sucking lemons in the long run.

Here's what's happened.

1) Apple extended their business into phones and iPads. Adding 2 more crucial hardware touch points in the connected content consumption usage models. You now have the ability to own and use Apple hardware at any point of the day. Regardless of what you are doing.

2) Apple's content business is thriving. More importantly, they create the App store and that is a huge reason for the success of the iPhone. That model is now being replicated by not only other phone players - but also Intel through App Up Centre.

3) Dell, HP and other's are unsuccessfully following Apple into devices. But are missing a key part - content and apps. They just don't get it. HP however through the acquisition of Palm have an opportunity through Palm OS as a foundation for a unique and satisfying experience. Let's see if they can capitalize.

4) Google develops Android and gives it away to the industry.

4) Intel and Nokia partner to develop MeeGo. Nokia is losing traction in the phone business. Intel is terrified that their hardware will become irrelevant because Windows is a lame duck in the world of phones and gadgets. And if They need their own software strategy.

Apple and Google on a collision course:

Back in December 2006 I wrote this article on how Apple and Google were heading to a collision or co-operation.

So here we are 3 years later. And guess what - they are heading to a collision.