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Intel CEO: 'We will win in the tablet market'

But the wait will be long, longer, or longerer

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Intel president and chief executive Paul Otellini says that his company is going to "win" in the tablet marketplace.

"At Intel," he told reporters and analysts on a conference call announcing Chipzilla's third-quarter financial performance, "we're going to utilize all the assets at our disposal to win this segment: the world's best silicon process technology, the best compute architecture, and our global scale."

In his prepared remarks kicking off the call, Otellini wasted no time in stressing Intel's desire to be a player in the tablet market — nor in admitting that his company is not yet even at the pitch, let alone in the lineup. "I know that the big question on everyone's mind is how Intel will respond to new computing categories where Intel currently has little presence, specifically tablets," he said.

Before outlining his tale of the tablet, he gave props to Cupertino: "We think tablets are exciting, and we fully welcome their arrival. Apple has done a wonderful job reinventing the category."

Preempting questions about the oft-discussed cannibalization of the PC and netbook market by tablets, Otellini noted: "We believe that, like netbooks, tablets will expand the [total market] for computing overall."

He did, however, admit that tablets will munch existing markets — but only with nibbles, not chomps: "Will they impact PC sales? Sure. At the margin they probably will. Consumers will have a limited amount of discretionary income, and some will choose to purchase a tablet instead of upgrading an existing PC or purchasing a netbook."

From his point of view, tablet sales will mimic the netbook track: "We saw the same [impact] happen when netbooks were introduced. But three years later, both the PC and the netbook market segments have grown substantially, and we believe that will happen again with tablets."

Being the jockey of 800-ton Chipzilla, Otellini can afford to take the long view: "We take a longer-term view to the tablet opportunity," he said, "and the overarching benefit to Intel and the rest of the industry is to have a new, growing computing segment where we can participate alongside our growing PC business."

Long view or no, and "little presence" or little success as of yet, Otellini wanted his listeners to know that he and his troops were hard at work muscling into the market that Apple created: "We are deeply engaged with a number of partners to bring to market innovative tablet solutions," he said. "Our design-win momentum is very strong, and in the coming months and quarters you will see Intel solutions that run on Windows, Android, and MeeGo operating systems across a variety of form factors and price points."

Citing the promised performance and power-miserliness of Intel's upcoming tablet and netbook SoC, Otellini said: "We have very good silicon with Oak Trail."

Immediately after offering his opinion that Windows compatibility was "very important" for tablet acceptance in the enterprise market, however, Otellini's rosy picture of Intel's tablet future slipped a bit. "The fact that we are the only architecture that runs all the major... all but one of the major tablet operating systems — we don't yet run on Apple — says that I think we're in a pretty good space," he said.

Otellini's use of the qualifier "yet" seems either optimistic, or is an indication that his view of Intel's "win" in the tablet market is "longer-term," indeed. ®

Bootnote

During his conference call, Otellini waxed enthusiastically about Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, singling out its performance, compactness, and what he insisted will be greatly improved integrated graphics. "All that is wind in our sails going into ... next year," he said. Come to think of it, though, we heard his optimism in an audio-only call rather than read it in a printed release. Otellini might have meant "wind in our sales."

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