Tag: ultrabooks

Tablets put notebooks in the shade

OrangesA report said that tablets are set to overtake notebook PCs as the biggest mobile computing category.

That’s according to ABI Research, which said its data shows that tablets will have a 52 percent majority of the market by the end of this year.

Notebook shre will drop to a 48 percent share this year, and that will further decline by the end of 2016 too.

Tablets, are however, a niche and notebooks will show flat growth, partly because of a much longer replacement cycle.

Traditional notebooks are also threatened by Chromebooks which however will only show CAGR of 16 percent before this year and 2020.

ABI believes that tablets and notebooks don’t really compete in the same space, which makes the picture more complex. Acer, Apple, Asus and Lenovo all show good numbers in the Ultrabook and Chromebook markets, thinks ABI.

Intel announces Bay Trail tablet CPU, part two

[Part one is here]

Kirk Skaugen, senior VP General Manager PC Client Group at Intel took over in the second half of Wednesday’s IDF Keynote presentation. He began talking about the “2 in 1” computing platform. That raises the question: Have Ultrabooks slipped off Intel’s road map just when HP is announcing its HP ZBook 14 Ultra Workstation?

Kirk Skaugen


Perhaps they are simply not selling in the volume predicted at a couple past IDFs when Ultrabooks were announced? Skaugen put it this way: “Now we’ve stopped counting [OEM designs], and assumed that the entire world has gone thin”. He added that more than 40 percent of all Core notebooks have been designed with touch. Seventy percent of today’s Ultrabooks are touch-enabled, on the way to 100 percent touch later this year.

Skaugen said by this year’s holidays, the 2-in-1 form factor will be selling in the $999 down to $349 price range. He said that by the year’s end, there will be 60 2-in-1 devices in that future marketplace. Examples he showed were the Sony Duo 13-inch slider, the Dell XP 11, the Sony detachable – which only weighs 780 grams and handles both wired and wireless, and the Dell XP 12, which is a flip screen. An application from CyberLink will be provided on Haswell machines by the end of the year to energise content creation.

Skaugen handed over to Tami Reeler, Microsoft VP who discussed the Windows 8.1 released to developers. There was the usual sales story about how wonderful Windows 8 is.

In August, Windows 8 had the highest demand and sales, which was probably prompted by the back to school movement. She discussed Windows XP and its end of support in April 2014. She also claimed that “three quarters of the corporate users have moved to a modern Windows from Windows XP” – but she didn’t specify whether they were using Windows 7 or Windows 8.x.

Tami Reeler talks Windows 8 with Kirk Skaugen

Intel says that it has the business community handled with fourth generation core CPUs, SST Pro 1500 SSD, location-based security in the enterprise, and its new Pro-WiDI plus password free VPN connections – which got a round of applause from the audience.

Mario Müller, VP of IT Infrastructure at BMW, was next to join Kirk Skaugen on stage. There was some banter about a new BMW for everybody in the audience. Müller said that 55,000 of its 120,000 employees will be getting core i5 computers, but none of the audience will be receiving a BMW, unfortunately.

Mario Müller and Kirk Skaugen discussing new BMW i8 Plug-In Hybrid Sports Car 

Skaugen returned to topic saying that Bay Trail has 140 design wins and it runs all operating systems faster – Android, iOS, Chrome, and Linux. He talked about the Cinnabar benchmark using the fourth generation Broadwell 14 nm CPU. The chips will include AVX 3.2, DDR4 and PCI Express 4.0 support among their improved feature set.

Bay Trail SoCs are aimed at tablets and convertibles with screen sizes priced at $599 or below and will ship in tablets running Windows 8 and Android, ranging down to below $100 in price. When Chinese tablet OEMs start selling $100 price point 7-inch tablets with Bay Trail inside, then Intel will have to be taken very seriously by the ARM and MIPS partners.

Sony Duo slider as a tablet 

The discussions turned towards 3D. By Q2 2014, Intel predicts there will be collaboration over a 3D camera specification that will be implemented into Ultrabooks. We were told that Intel has had high numbers of downloads for its 3D SDK. It has the $100,000,000 Experience  and the Perceptual Computing Fund to work with.

Skaugen showed a 2D/3D camera that fits into the bezel of an Ultrabook. He gave an example of 3D functionality with a video showing children playing with an Ultrabook which had a 3D camera installed. Their expressions were of surprised joy.

3D developers should be glad to know that Project Anarchy is a free 3D game production engine and is ready to be downloaded and used.

Gonzague de Vallois, VP Sales and Marketing for Gameloft, showed off the company’s latest Android 3D auto racing game, referred to as Asphalt 8: Airborne, which takes advantage of Bay Trail and 3D graphics. At $4.99 it’s pretty affordable.

Gameloft’s Asphalt 8, for Android

Sundar Pichai, Senior VP Android Chrome & Apps at Google talked about the just-introduced Haswell CPU Chromebook and its stunning performance, extended battery life, and 3D capabilities. He also presented Doug Fisher from Intel’s Software and Services Group with an official Google Beanie cap – what a new hire at Google wears for their first days. After Pichai left the stage, Fisher said something about ‘that is a give away’.

Sundar Pichai gives Doug Fisher a Google Beanie

Over 1,000 Intel engineers are working on Google Android and Chrome.

Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25 percent of the $300-or-less computer segment. Clearly, Intel has embraced Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems as a target market to put a lot of “Intel Inside”. 

Wall Street slams Intel

Intel is starting to get poor report cards from its chums in Wall Street who are a little worried that the chip maker is not doing enough to deal with falling PC sales.

Intel shares are down 3.5 following a couple of negative notes based on a perceived weakening of the PC market.

The guts of the reasoning is no longer that Intel is failing to make piles of dosh from the mobile market, but rather that it is cannibalising its sales of desktop and laptop microprocessors with sales of cheaper Atom mobile chips.

Poor Intel just can’t seem to woo Wall Street: first it said Chipzilla’s stuffed because it can’t make money out of mobile, and then when it does it’s downgraded for eating its lucrative PC market. This sort of unfair reasoning should be left to journalists.

According to Reuters, Patrick Wang of Evercore Partners cut his rating on the shares from Equal Weight to Underweight, and slashed his price target from $22 to $20. Wang wrote that cannibalisation of PCs by tablet computers and a breakdown of demand in emerging markets will produce a 10 percent decline in PC unit shipments this year, worse than the six percent decline he’d previously predicted.

The argument is that PC sales are continuing to weaken and there’s no sign this problem is going away. While Chipzilla might have done well on the mobile front, it is going to be a long time before that cash matches what it earns from PCs.

To make matters worse for Intel, the tablet and smartphone market is going to be saturated by 2014 and so any moves on Atom will have come too late.

Wang cut his estimate for this year to $52.8 billion in revenue and $1.80 per share in net profit from a prior $53.2 billion and $1.85. For 2014, he projects $54.6 billion and $1.90, down from a prior $55.25 billion and $1.98.

Other analysts said that any bounce in Q3 from Haswell sales won’t be able to offset the weakening PC market.

What’s strange is that no investors are wondering why the PC market is so stuffed. There are a lot of companies sitting on ancient Windows XP computers which must be fire hazards by now, even if they are not software security nightmares.

Companies cannot replace these PCs with tablets or anything so low powered. Even if they were plugging such hardware into the cloud to keep software demands down, the hardware must be getting close to death.

Analysts seem to be playing down Microsoft dumping Windows XP support in the very near future, when companies will have to upgrade their hardware to run later versions of Windows.

The only other choice is to prop up aging hardware using Linux, but such a move would be problematic. Intel is coming out with some new chips and that could result in a surprise hardware boom.

In this case, Intel will be in a stronger position and certainly have done all it can. If it had not planned for this outcome, then the analysts would equally be moaning that Chipzilla failed here too. 

Intel in holding pattern for Ultrabooks

Chipzilla’s efforts to push into the mobile arena are paying off, but the fashion bag maker is still in a holding pattern waiting for Ultrabooks to take off, according to an analyst from Morgan Stanley.

According to Barrons, Joseph Moore, for it was he, rated Intel as an underweight and set a $20 price target for its shares, saying that the outfit could hold its own against competitors in the battle for tablets based on Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Tragically that will not help the company’s bottom line much. He said that last week’s Silvermont CPU core announcement for mobile devices suggested that people should be a lot more optimistic about Intel.

He claimed that the company is more competitive with licensees of ARM microprocessor architecture, such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Nvidia.

Moore praised Intel for making great strides in optimising its Atom architecture for the performance per watt needed for ultra-mobile devices and expects Intel selling 50 million of its Atom line of processors for tablets through 2015. This is four percent above current expectations.

He believes that sales of tablets next year will be $282.8 million and will rise in 2015 to $327.5 million, respectively. Moore said that about 13 percent in 2014 will be based on Microsoft’s Windows 8, and 16 percent in 2015. The rest will be Apple and Google gear. The Atom might take almost eight percent of Android shipments, and 75 percent of Win 8 tablets, and the combination, 36 million shipments in 2014 and 50.2 million in 2015, would produce $722 million and $1 billion, respectively, in revenue, at an average price of $20 per chip.

For Chipzilla to get any real meaningful financial uplift from mobile devices, the company must see success with its higher priced Haswell based chips in Ultrabooks and hybrid computers.

He was curiously optimistic about Intel’s progress in ultra mobile. If Intel can use new form factors to mitigate tablet cannibalisation altogether it will allow them to maintain traditional profits, which are unmatched by any other semiconductor end market, he reckons.

But he thinks that higher end Ultrabooks are “somewhat challenging” as $200 for touch panels, SSDs, and thin form factors, providing high end detachable and convertible form factors is a lot of money.

“If Ultrabooks are going to return the industry to growth, there is implicitly the assumption that PC ASPs will rise, which historically speaking has been a difficult proposition,” Moore wrote. 

Intel loses its reason to live

In his departing notes to shareholders last night, Intel CEO Paul Otellini was remarkably upbeat about a boat that is increasingly beginning to resemble the now famous Itanic.

Delivering its financial results, Otellini reckoned that its investment in chips for tablets and smartphones would pay off in the next quarter.

That seems highly unlikely to this observer. If Intel is winning deals with smartphone and tablet manufacturers, I am sure that we hacks would have been bombarded with press releases galore.

We haven’t been deluged with press releases about its Atom wins. And we very much doubt we will be deluged by them any time real soon.

Ultrabooks have been a failure because no-one wants to pay over the odds for a machine that’s not particularly thin and is particularly expensive.

Intel’s economic model looks a little broken – particularly so because it has relied on chip prices staying high, and because it costs billions to make fabrication plants. Now, Microsoft has signalled it will try give its touch technology a boost by cutting prices on Windows 8.

That is not good news for Intel. To survive, it has to make loads of money in order to finance its fabs and also, we might note in passing, to pay the 105,000 people that work for Chipzilla.

According to Otellini, yesterday, Haswell – or should we call it Has been – will save Intel’s bacon.  The numbers just don’t add up, Mr Otellini.  We still are waiting to see who the head hunters herd into the Satan Clara company to replace the multi-millionaire and to shepherd the flocks.

Windows XP users face an upgrade conundrum

News that Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows XP in a year from now is bound to cause some dismay for quite a few people.

The estimate is that some 37 percent of people are happy with using what turned out to be a very stable operating system. In my own case, I own a Sony Vaio which came installed with Vista but with the operating to “downgrade” to Windows XP. That, I duly did.

After reading about the Redmond plans this morning, I decided to see just how compatible my rather reliable Viao is with Windows 7. Needless to say, it’s not very compatible at all – and re-installing four or five years of valuable software doesn’t exactly fill my mind with glee. So that makes the decision to carry on using XP as long as my notebook lasts an easy one.

In the old days, we found ourselves more or less blackmailed by the Wintel axis powers into upgrading our machines. But these days, I can see very little compelling reason to do so.  I have another machine that has Windows 7 installed and while that OS is pretty stable,

I can see no reason on earth to spend an awful lot of money on an Ultrabook – especially considering the fact that I’ve every reason to suspect the Intel platform isn’t particularly good. I asked Intel if I could have a look at a machine some months ago – the answer was “no”. It’s almost as if Intel doesn’t want tech people to review Ultrabooks.

And like many other people, these days I spend a great deal of time using my Samsung Galaxy III and my Apple iPad 3 doing the fun things in life.  It’s only when I need to use a proper keyboard that I’m forced back onto the X86 platform.

I’ll be damned if I spend goodness knows how much money just to have a modern version of Office and an operating system that offers little additional functionality over Windows XP. Instead, I will maintain and protect my old Vaio XP jalopy to the best of my ability.

Incidentally, you have only to boot up ancient versions of software you might have hanging around on your shelves to see that new is not necessarily good. Microsoft Word for Windows 2.0 was a good version of the word processor – it really zings along on Intel platforms several generations ahead of it.

I suspect many of the 37 percent who still use Windows XP will do the same thing I’m doing.  Both Microsoft and Intel are, I believe, slowly realising that their gravy train is hitting the buffers.  This year and next year are crunch times for both the corporations.

$599 Ultrabooks coming for Christmas

Chipmaker Intel is still struggling to market sleek and pricey Ultrabooks, which are facing more competition than ever from high-end tablets and hybrids. However, it could finally be about to make them a bit more appealing to cash strapped consumers who won’t have their savings taxed by the Cypriot government.

During a recent event in Los Angeles, Intel promised that upcoming Ultrabooks, based on fourth generation Haswell chips, will have a starting price of $599. This sounds like a pretty competitive price point, as high-end tablets and hybrids usually start at about $500.

In addition, quite a few Haswell based Ultrabooks are expected to feature touchscreens, all-day battery life and high resolution displays, although they probably won’t sell for $599.

Kirk Skaugen, SVP and manager, Intel PC Client Group, stressed that Intel designed Haswell from the ground up for the Ultrabook, reports CRN.  He added that the new generation of Ultrabooks will allow users to leave their battery pack at home, although we’re pretty sure that’s what most users do anyway.

Ultrabook shipments are relatively slow at the moment and analysts, including IHS iSuppli, were forced to slash 2012 Ultrabook sales forecasts in half. It is not looking very good this year, either. IHS iSuppli cut its 2013 forecast from 61 million units to 44 million units.

However, as Ultrabooks get cheaper Intel might find itself competing against ultrathins based on AMD APUs, including upcoming Richland ULV parts and perhaps even some Kabini chips, based on the all-new Jaguar core. 

Dell buy out on Monday

Michael Dell’s much talked about buy-out of his own company will happen on Monday, according to industry whispers.

A number of news sources claim  that Dell is nearing an agreement to sell itself to a buyout consortium led by its founder and chief executive Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

Michael Dell will take majority ownership of the world’s third largest PC maker, which currently has a market value of $23 billion, while Silver Lake and Microsoft would become minority investors.

Of course, no one has mentioned how much of Dell’s personal fortune will be used to buy his company back from shareholders. It is fairly likely to be the largest leveraged buyout since levers were first invented by Archimedes.

Apparently there is still some shouting to do over the weekend and it is possible that the timetable could still slip.

Dell’s investment group has secured up to $15 billion of debt financing to take Dell private from four investment banks who are named and shamed as Barclays, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and RBC Capital.

Barclays is advising Silver Lake on the transaction, along with Perella Weinberg Partners. JPMorgan Chase is advising Dell.

What is expected to happen is that Michael Dell will contribute his stake of 16 percent in the company toward gaining majority ownership.

It is not really clear what Dell will get out of the whole plan. Some have suggested that going private would allow Dell to carry out a difficult makeover where the great unwashed can’t see, mock, and blow raspberries. 

Intel, Microsoft face the Eva Glass of Destruction in 2013

Destiny deals cards but while it sometimes deals Aces in the poker game of technology, in the case of both Intel and Microsoft the year 2012 has really been a horrible year for the Great Satan of Chips and the Great Satan of Software, respectively. The Ace of Spades, it comes to mind.

At CES 2012, Intel had nothing to say to TechEye. Amidst the jingling and the jangling the best it could come up with was automotive stuff – that is to say cars.  Ultrabooks in 2012 started with a whimper and ended with a whimper and a snivel.

Microsoft had little to say at CeBIT 2012 in March – we snuck into its press conference in the Messe and it told tales of Windows 8, fantastic chimaeric tales where its famous “interface” could bridge two, three or even four dimensions. But it lacked the famous “apps”.

At Computex 2012 we gazed in awe as the dancing girls tried to ramp up the volume on both bothies (that’s Scottish for booths) to persuade the world+dog that this really was a great thing.  You chatted to the guys and guyettes at the sharp end of life – the Asusteks of this world – and you realised PDQ (pretty damn quickly) that Taiwan felt that both Microsoft and Intel had overplayed their cards.

Somehow, without meaning to, we made it to IDF 2012 – a forlorn backyard depopulated by people who didn’t want Microsoft and Intel’s money any more.  The whole world+dog had moved on to tablets and jerky attempts by the Great Trinity of the X86 world – oh yeah AMD compris – met with bellylaughs.

To lose one executive is natural. To lose two is unnatural. But to lose three is to lose.  Sean Maloney departs for pastures new at the end of January 2013 – he will be sorely missed, because actually he is quite effective.  Paul “don’t cry for me” Otellini will leave Intel in May 2013, is part of the very famous INTC succession plan.

While the internally blinkered worlds of INTC and MSFT continue, the outside world has changed radically.  Ultrabooks are way too expensive. Microsoft Tablets are risible if you’re talking hard cash. Intel and Microsoft have lost their way. Atoms are smashed by other wannabes.

IntelIntel can probably make a mint out of healthcare and Microsoft can possibly make a mint out of servers for a while. But the grand behemoths have fallen, in all certainty.  No one in their right mind would buy an Ultrabook nor would a sane person buy an overpriced tablet too.

The goliaths have been slain by the small guys, but because no-one likes change, it is hard for the giants to realise this, even though the stone has finally hit their foreheads. Giants take time to fall, like empires. The X86 is dead. Long live convergence and the small guys.

Here shown is a CD Intel gave me at an IDF in 2000. Note well the apostrophe between PC and s. It is non-grammatical. The contents are risible, too…

Dell abandons Android

Tinbox shifter Michael Dell will no longer be shifting anything with an Android label on it.

Dell vice chairman Jeff Clarke told the Dell World Conference in Austin the company is officially giving up on Android phones and tablets. While we did not know that Dell was shipping many Android phones, the fact that the operating system will not see the light of day on any of its tablets is a little odd.

The truth of the matter is that punters were not really interested in Dell’s crack at selling mobile devices.

Clarke told Maximum PC that Android was only any good if you had content to peddle to make up the numbers.

Amazon is selling books and Google is making it up with search, but Dell could not find a way to build a business on Android, Clarke said.

Of course if you are trying to run it with underpowered and dull hardware on it customers will not be interested either. Samsung, which has made a killing with Android, has not had many problems. We would have thought that turning out Android based tablets packed with business software for the corporate market would make Dell a pretty penny.

This appears to be the cunning plan. Only, according to Clarke, Dell does not want to use Android to do it.

He said that it was better to focus on Windows 8 for the enterprise market. Clarke touted the Dell XPS 12 hybrid as an example of what the company has in mind.

Ignoring the consumer market is risky given that everyone wants a share of it, but Dell can’t compete in it anyway so it is better to focus on what it can do well.