Who says PCs are dead? Intel just unveiled product roadmap tweaks that aim to help drive the reinvention of desktop computing. According to Intel, new form factors like mini PCs and desktop all-in-ones (AIO) are gaining traction in the market. The company plans to help deliver new features and functions that will build on that momentum.
To save PCs, research indicates somebody has to do something. Market research firm IDC estimates worldwide PC shipments dipped 9.8% in 2013. And the news gets worse. IDC is predicting shipments will decline another six percent in 2014 and continue sliding through 2018.
"The desktop business is a large and important segment for Intel, and we are investing in it -- reinventing form factors, experiences and products for our customers," said Lisa Graff, vice president and general manager of Intel's Desktop Client Platform Group. "Enthusiasts are the heart and soul of the desktop and they asked us to give them more. We are delivering -- more cores, better overclocking, faster speeds."
Intel unveiled the news at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. The announcement included a preview of a special unlocked 4th generation Intel Core processor code-named “Devil’s Canyon.”
By mid-2014, the company said, Devil’s Canyon will bring better thermal interface and CPU packaging materials that should drive performance improvements. Intel also announced plans for an Intel Pentium processor 20th Anniversary Edition. That chip will offer what the company calls “unlocked multipliers” that allow the increase of core and memory frequencies independently from the larger system.
On the desktop front, Intel announced partnerships with software developers to push out consumer multi-user, multi-touch applications like board games and educational titles. The company pointed to 12 new software titles, including Sony Pictures Television’s Wheel of Fortune; Legacy's Crayola's Color, Draw and Sing; and Sesame Street's Prankster Planet.
Meanwhile, “Black Brook," a large all-in-one PC, offers a look at Intel’s latest portable AIO PC reference design. It’s a thin system that includes new capabilities and promises new user experiences. Black Brook, for example, sports an Intel RealSense 3-D camera, a quad microphone array, premium audio and a full HD display.
A Clear Vision
We turned to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his take on Intel’s strategy. With few exceptions, he told us IT business strategies tend to be in a state of flux, shifting and adapting to account for changes in the marketplace and technological developments.
From his perspective, knowledgeable vendors recognize this and use opportunities like industry conferences, trade shows and earnings calls to state and discuss elemental changes in focus and direction. Intel, he said, has successfully clarified its strategy.
“How successful it will be remains to be seen. As many have and continue to point out, the company’s challenges -- particularly in mobile -- are significant technologically and competitively,” King said. “Additionally, some of Intel’s core efforts will require fundamental changes in its corporate culture. That can be a tough prospect for any company but tends to grow in scope and complexity according to an organization’s size and history.”
While that is the case for many IT vendors, King said Intel has often used its leadership successions to institute broader changes. Intel is clearly successful and influential, he said. The company is a manufacturing firm at heart and CEO Brian Krzanich’s previous roles in the company’s fab organization mean that he understands its strengths and weaknesses on a level that would be beyond most other C-level executives, King added.
“That understanding is likely to ensure the success of new and future strategic shifts, bolster the company’s adaptations to technology and market evolution, and help place Intel Inside virtually everything,” he concluded.