Intel faces a shaky economy nd a mobile gadget craze that is eating away at demand for its PC chips, having underestimated the impact that smartphones and tablet computers would have on the personal computer market.
In 2008, nearly 300 million PCs were sold, and most of them were powered by Microsoft’s Windows and Intel’s microchips, according to Forrester Research. Some 142 million smartphones sold that year, at a time when the tablet market hadn’t really taken off. That wouldn’t happen until Apple’s 2010 release of the iPad.
By contrast, this year, Forrester estimates 330 million PCs will be sold worldwide compared with 665 million smartphones and just over 100 million tablets. By 2016, Forrester predicts annual sales of PCs will rise only slightly to 370 million machines while more than 1.6 billion smartphones and tablets will be purchased.
Apple’s iPhone and iPad inspired a wave of sophisticated hand-held devices that are undercutting demand for desktop and laptop machines that house Intel processors.
Most tablets rely on a technology licensed from British chip designer ARM Holdings Plc. Even Microsoft has tweaked the latest version of the Windows operating system so it works on ARM chips.