Intel CEO faults recent evolution of PCs

Otellini reaffirms faith in future of thin laptops with touchscreen capabilities

Intel CEO Paul Otellini came to the defense of PCs at an industry conference Friday, while outlining his belief that new devices known as ultrabooks will do more to meet consumer and business needs.

"Intel loves PCs," Otellini said at Dell World, although he added that PCs "are taken for granted to some extent because they are so useful."

But Otellini also said that "to some extent, the evolution of the PC has been retarded, I think, in the last few years."

Earlier this year, Intel announced a new class of laptops, called ultrabooks, that are thin and light and have some of the touchscreen characteristics of tablets.

The initial entries into this market, some of which are priced at more than $1,000, have drawn criticism from analysts.

In an effort to help make ultrabooks affordable, Intel in August announced a $300 million fund to help component suppliers, such as builders of touchscreens and low-profile disk drives, cut costs.

"Ultrathin today has an ultrahigh premium," Otellini said. The hope is that with the ultrabook fund, the price of the components will come down "much faster than we would have seen otherwise."

PC sales have been sluggish. Both IDC and Gartner, in reports last week for the most recent quarter, said PC shipments had failed to meet expectations. IDC said PC shipments increased by 3.6% year over year, while Gartner put the figure at 3.2%.

Analysts have blamed the economy and competition from tablets for weak PC sales.

Otellini said Intel's ultrabook is due next year. Windows 8 is also expected next year, and Otellini said the new Microsoft operating system will be critical to the ultrabook. "We think that Windows 8 on Intel architecture, particularly in ultrabook, will give you the ultimate experience," he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers SaaS and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov, or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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