There's little doubt that the speed and ferocity of the transition from the PC to post-PC devices caught many companies on the hop. The big names that had dominated the PC landscape for decades were caught out by the sudden shift in both consumer and enterprise spending away from desktops and notebooks, and instead to buying cheaper devices in the form of smartphones and tablets. But now Intel chairman Andy Bryant explains just how badly caught out the company was.
Speaking during a day-long meeting with investors at the company's HQ, Bryant admitted how ill-prepared the company had been for the transition.
"I was personally embarrassed that we seemed to have lost our way," Bryant said.
He went on to say that the company is now "paying the price" for allowing rivals to get such a firm foothold in the mobile sector.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is cautiously optimistic about the future, claiming while PC sales are still expected to decline, that will happen at a slower rate.
"The PC market is beginning to see signs of stabilization," said Krzanich.
So what is Intel going to do as PC sales decline? Focus on tablets, that's what. Over the coming year it wants to quadruple its tablet business to 40 million units, and to accomplish that goal it has its sights set on tablets of all types, even down to $100 bargain end of the spectrum.
"We've got to have that footprint," Krzanich told investors. "We've got to have that scale."
Intel is also getting serious about computing beyond Windows, and is looking to develop hardware that can have Chrome OS and Android installed alongside Windows, as well as trying to carve a market for itself in the high-end smartphone market.
There's no doubt that Intel was late getting to the post-PC party, and that the company allowed smaller players such as Qualcomm and Nvidia to gain traction with their products. It's also clear that Intel is feeling the pinch after the bottom fell out of the PC market (fortunately for Intel, the server market remained strong, and is expected to continue to grow over the coming years). However, the question remains as to whether there's much room for Intel, especially at the high end, where Nvidia and Qualcomm have things stitched up between them. Intel might have to throw a lot of money and be willing to operate on razor-thin margins in order to carve out the sort of footprint it has planned.
Another question is where does this leave AMD? The company might be sitting pretty having scored a place inside both Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, but the company has next to no presence in the mobile market. Will AMD also need to make a foray into the mobile market, or is it content with its share of the diminishing PC market along with the console market?