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Mardi, 18 Octobre 2011 22:55

If the PC Is Dead, Someone Forgot to Tell Intel's Customers

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If the PC Is Dead, Someone Forgot to Tell Intel's CustomersAnother quarter, another fresh set of earnings records for Intel. As has been the case for the past few quarters, the Tuesday release of Intel’s third-quarter earnings shows that revenue is up on both the client and server sides of Intel’s business. As a tech industry bellwether, Intel’s results are always most informative when broken out by vertical, so let’s take a look at what happened this past quarter.

The first take-home from Intel’s quarterly results is that the rumors of the PC’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Intel’s PC Client Group revenue is up 22 percent year-over-year, a healthy jump that (not coincidentally) echoes the 26 percent year-over-year jump that Apple’s most recent quarterly results saw in Mac sales. The one segment of the PC market that “post-PC” pundits have been right about are netbooks—Atom sales are down a whopping 24 percent sequentially and 32 percent year-over-year. To once again take a sideways glance at Apple’s earnings, the iPad is up 166 percent year-over-year in units shipped, so it seems likely that any tablet cannibalization of the PC is confined to the netbook segment (which consumers have hated for a long time anyway).

The Data Center Group’s revenues were up 15 percent year-over-year—a solid gain, but not as big of a jump as we’ve seen in previous quarters. Nonetheless, this number is just going to keep climbing right along with the number of Internet-connected devices.

Intel’s Other Intel Architecture group had the most robust growth of all the groups, posting a 68 percent jump in revenues year-over-year. But there’s a lot less going on with this number than meets the eye. This group includes the following units (the text below is mostly from this Intel page, but I’ve added comments):

  • Intel Mobile Communications: Delivering mobile phone components such as baseband processors, radio frequency transceivers, and power management chips. So this is where the recently acquired Infineon resides.
  • Intelligent Systems Group: Delivering microprocessors and related chipsets for embedded applications. This group used to be called the Embedded and Communications Group. Hopefully the name change means that Intel has given up pushing their very idiosyncratic definition of the term “embedded,” which basically works out to “not in a PC.” So a Xeon chip in a router is “embedded” by Intel standards.
  • Netbook and Tablet Group: Delivering microprocessors and related chipsets for the netbook and tablet market segments. It’s not clear why this is separate from the Atom group, since Atom is what goes into netbooks and tablets … or, rather, it’s what would go into tablets if there were an x86 tablet market to speak of, but there isn’t.
  • Digital Home Group: Delivering Intel architecture-based products for next-generation consumer electronics devices. This would include SmartTV and Intel’s digital health products.
  • Ultra-Mobility Group: Delivering low-power Intel architecture-based products in the next-generation handheld market segment.

Of the segments above, the Infineon purchase is behind the majority of the gains in this group. Intel bought a very solid baseband business in Infineon and just rolled that into Other IA, hence the big jump. All told, Infineon made up for almost half of this quarter’s Other IA revenue. The Intelligent Systems segment was down slightly, and the trest of these segments are either nascent (digital home, ultra-mobility) or they’ve flopped (netbook and tablet).

The other place where a recent acquisition of a stable, profitable business gave an Intel group a boost was in the Software and Services Group, where revenue was up 720 percent year-over-year thanks almost entirely to the McAfee acquisition.

Overall this was another blockbuster quarter for Intel, with revenues up 9 percent sequentially and 28 percent year-over-year.

As far as the implications for the larger economy, Intel reported slower growth in the consumer segment of mature markets—most of the demand strength this quarter was from enterprise and emerging markets. This fits with the recent string of warnings out of nearly every corner, from the IMF and OECD to the heads of many major banks, that growth in the developed West is slowing down. But that given Intel’s strength in emerging markets, that slowdown will have to spread before it threatens the company’s winning streak.

Have any news tips, or just want to send me feedback? You can reach me at jon underscore stokes at wired.com. I’m also on Twitter as @jonst0kes, and on Google+.

Image: eurleif/Flickr

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