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Tablet marketgasm? Don't make us laugh, say Intel chiefs

'I don't believe in this fondleslab bear,' insists Smith

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Intel execs poured cold water on overheated predictions for tablet sales today, pointing out to investors that notebook shipments still massively outnumber fondleslabs, and there is little prospect of that changing.

CFO Stacy Smith and EMEA General Manager Christian Morales hit investors with a mountain of data at at an investor conference in London this morning.

Smith re-emphasised the chip giant's determination to drive into the phone and tablet markets, describing what he said would be a doubling of Moore's law across its SoC products over coming years.

While the firm will certainly play in the tablet market, Smith dismissed suggestions that this would be at the expense of the firm's notebook PC business, which is based around more lucrative full fat chips.

There were obvious reasons why tablets could not supplant notebooks any time soon, he said, including security issues and their limited capabilities in producing content.

More tangibly, he argued, notebooks had weathered the netbook storm – itself largely powered by the Intel's Atom range. Surging netbook sales coincided with the financial crisis of 2008, Smith argued. While notebook sales took a dive during that time, once the dust had cleared, it was obvious this was down to consumers and businesses reining back spending, rather than a wholeswitch switch to netbooks.

Secondly, he argued, demographics show tablet sales are currently heavily skewed towards more affluent buyers.

Lastly, he pointed to Apple's own product line, which showed Macbook sales climbing faster than iPads.

The "bear case" Smith said, was shipments of 100 million tablets in 2013 and a "33 per cent cannibalisation" of netbooks, but this would still leave a total addressable PC market growing at 11 per cent.

"And I don't believe that case," said Smith.

While the firm was investing in tablets and other non-notebook mobile platforms, "We believe they're an incremental device."

EMEA boss Christian Morales said tablet sales were around half those of netbooks. "Tablets might sell more than netbooks in Q4," he suggested.

"When you look at tablets, one is selling very well. Another is selling but very behind, and there are a lot more coming," he said.

"The data is the data ... the volumes are notebooks, then netbooks, then other devices." ®

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