IHS: Wintel playing 'catch-up' thanks to smartphones, tablets

IHS: Wintel playing 'catch-up' thanks to smartphones, tablets

Summary: The Microsoft-Intel alliance is starting to show some frays, leading analysts to pounce on a potential decline.


The growth of the mobile segment -- specifically, smartphones and tablets -- have led many tech analysts to declare we're in the "post-PC era." Thanks to that, the Microsoft-Intel alliance commonly known as Wintel is now starting to show its age, according to market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli.

To break it down, IHS projects that Microsoft's share of the operating system market to slip to 33 percent by 2016 (down from 44 percent last year), while Intel will drop to 29 percent in the microprocessor segment -- down from 44 percent in 2011.

At the same time, IHS forecasts that the total computer market (which includes PCs as well as smartphones and tablets) to roughly double between 2011 and 2016. Thus, the major boost is going to be thanks to handheld mobile devices -- not PCs.

This year alone, analysts expect 655 million smartphones will be shipped worldwide -- approximately triple the total for mobile PCs.


Craig Stice, a senior principal analyst covering compute platforms at IHS, explained in the report that because Microsoft and Intel based their strategy by tying together an operating system with specific microprocessor technologies, that same strategy doesn't work for the post-PC era.

In the PC segment, Wintel extracted the majority of the profits, controlled every move and compelled all other players to either comply or risk being forced out of the game. While still an overwhelming influence in their respective markets, the tables have turned for Microsoft and Intel. With smartphones and tablets performing tasks previously exclusive to PCs, the computer market has expanded to include other platforms. As a result, Wintel finds itself in the unfamiliar position of dancing to someone else’s tune, following standards that were set by other companies for form factors, user interfaces and even pricing. This means Microsoft and Intel must think outside the box—even if it means adopting strategies that work against each other’s interests.

It also doesn't help that up until now, Microsoft hasn't exactly been a moving force in the smartphone and tablet markets, both of which are presently dominated by Apple and Google.

Stice added, "The Wintel camp is not accustomed to following, but with both companies being excluded of the two fastest-growing markets, they are in catch-up mode."

Nevertheless, there is still plenty of hope with both of these companies -- at least on an individual level -- as Microsoft preps for the release of Windows 8 and Intel responded to the evolving PC market more pointedly with Ultrabooks. But both of these moves are what IHS analysts describe as steps away from "a traditional partner," thus revealing more frays in the Wintel partnership.

Chart via IHS iSuppli

Topics: Microsoft, Intel, Smartphones, Tablets, Tech Industry

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  • This is a great thing

    More competition is better. This is why Apple needs competition or else they will continue to release what I've been calling the iPhone IE and the iPad IE - perfect examples of what happens to a company when it feels like it has no competition.
    • no competition?

      So, the acts of attempting to get the competition legally removed from the shelves as well as seeing the world market share significantly favoring android are not indicators that they feel significant competition already?
  • How did they miss it?

    Given the insider's view that Intel executives had of the future of microprocessors, it's hard to understand how they were blindsided by smartphones. Did no one there foresee cell phones morphing into little hand-held computers? Why wouldn't they have wanted to be part of that? Even in the days of flip-phones, the volumes were enormous.
    Robert Hahn
  • Shipments not Sales

    So that graph over there shows the projection of shipments, not the projection of total sales. Which would make sense, since I can't imagine how anyone can predict how well Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 devices will do in the market.

    However, it doesn't feel like IHS is actually telling us anything we didn't already know or suspect here.
  • They are not right about wintel

    MS has had windows running on non Intel chips, both server and client, as well as embedded and CE for a couple decades. Just because the market has shown a preference for Intel doesn't mean MS is tied to it. Also a large amount of the tablet and smartphone business is moving to Windows and Intel. A lot of this and next years tablets and smartphones will be replaced with Wintel ones in 2016
    Johnny Vegas
  • Most Of The World’s Computers Are Not Running Windows

    Android would have surpassed Windows to become the fastest-shipping OS by now. It’s certainly the fastest-growing ever in world history.
  • Intel only in the hole because of thyere own actions

    Intel are only in the hole on Mobile, because they took the barking mad descision almost a decade ago to off-load their ARM division (to Marvell).

    Intel's StrongARM(eg DEC)/XScale was by far the best of breed a decade ago, powering Dell Axim's, Compaq iPaq's etc....

    They sold this division to concentrate on x86 mobile. After 10 years, it still barely manages to comete with ARM based deviced on power consumption, and only this year has any real hardware gone out the door - Orange San Diego and some other handsets from Lenovo.

    They have a decade of catching up to do, and the irony of no Windows Phone 8 on x86 mobile is shadenfreude to the extreme. I beleive even today, Intel are still an ARM licencee.