If the PC industry can't come up with a better way to make the PC a part of our Internet-crazed lives, then it will continue down its current path to becoming a has-been in the high-tech world. That's the message from Intel's chief technology officer, Justin Rattner, who will present a keynote address at the annual Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco on Thursday.
"I think that it's basically incumbent on Intel and the PC industry in general to deliver a competitive platform capability," Rattner told Computerworld on Wednesday. "If you can't deliver a comparable or better experience on a PC, the PC isn't going to win."
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The PC market has struggled through several years of a slow economy and is being squarely hit by the burgeoning tablet and smartphone markets. Consumers and even some enterprises are so enamored with their smaller, more portable devices that they've delayed upgrading their PCs and are instead spending their IT budgets on iPads or smartphones.
That trend is taking its toll on PC makers, as well as chip makers like Intel.
Last month, industry analyst firm IHS iSuppli downgraded its 2012 forecast for the worldwide semiconductor market blaming slumping economic conditions and chip revenue. The global chip market, which had been expected to grow by less than 3 percent for the year, now is projected to decline by 0.1 percent, iSuppli reported. Late last week, and just days before IDF kicked off, that slip hit close to home for Intel, when the company lowered its third-quarter revenue forecast.
Rattner didn't back away from talking about the challenges that face the PC industry. He acknowledged that it's more convenient to reach into a pocket or handbag for a smartphone or tablet to check messages when on the go. "If I get back to my desk and I don't have a lot of time and my PC has been off, it's much easier to pick up my phone and look at the mail and see if there's anything urgent," he said. "I don't even power up my PC. You begin to see people segregating their workloads. Things like mail and messaging seem to be much easier on phones and tablets, and not so easy on PCs."
So what does the PC industry need to do? According to Rattner, the industry is already well on its way in taking steps to renew interest in PCs.
Among those steps are to build PCs with always-on technology, better battery life and stand-by time.
"The pressure is really on," said Rattner. "We took the first steps but there's more to do. We need to show some of the next steps."