Intel launches Core i7; Who's buying?

Intel on Monday will launch its Core i7 chip just in time for an economic downturn. But what's the chip giant to do?

Intel on Monday will launch its Core i7 chip just in time for an economic downturn. But what's the chip giant to do? It's not like product and business cycles always align.

The Wall Street Journal raises an obvious question about launching a product amid a weak economy and PC World hits that same theme. Intel and its partners are going great guns with the Core i7--the first installment from the Nehalem platform. But who will buy these systems?

It's a question without much of an answer. Obviously, Intel--which said fourth quarter revenue will fall about $1 billion short of expectations--isn't expecting much. And the high-end systems that carry the Core i7 right now are out of favor--even gamers and gigahertz geeks are feeling the financial pinch. It's all about the cheap netbooks right now. Simply put, Intel's latest chip may have a tough road ahead.

Then again, what would you want Intel to do? Should Intel curb the Core i7? Say it was just kidding about that roadmap? Stop innovating?

Nah that's just silly. You launch new products in a downturn and hope they add fuel to the rebound. The problem right now is that there's no visibility in the tech industry. For now, Intel's Core i7 is a chip without a hefty return--for now.