Intel: PCs to continue growth in emerging markets

Chipmaker says desktop computers still has growth potential for at least another 10 years, albeit at a much slower rate compared to mobile PCs.

The desktop personal computer will not be phased out anytime soon and has room for further, particularly in emerging markets, says microprocessor giant Intel.

"There's still a good market for desktops, particularly from emerging markets," said Navin Shenoy, Intel's vice president for sales and marketing group and Asia-Pacific general manager. "The desktop segment is still growing but a much slower rate than mobile PCs."

Speaking at last week's annual Intel Solutions Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand, Shenoy also predicted that future desktops may "evolve", particularly in form factor, as specialized needs for these computers continue to surge.

"We see growth continuing for desktops for at least another 10 years. Aside from emerging markets, newly-emerging segments such as games will continue to drive the growth of desktops," he said.

He added that desktops with smaller, sleeker profiles will come out starting this year.

According to Shenoy, the need for cheap and simple machines that are designed to provide basic functions such as Internet connection, will surge this year.

He noted added that these "Nettops", will debut as early as June this year. While such systems are not meant to compete directly against laptops, the Intel executive said they will address a growing demand for "specialized" market segments.

One such design is the "wall PC", which the chipmaker predicts will find its way to homes and restaurants.

Seeing big in small
Mobile PC shipments have enjoyed phenomenal growth throughout the years as prices continue to drop, and most portables now sport features that are comparable to those found in desktops.

With the emergence of the "netbook"--a segment described by Intel to encompass ultra-portable, Internet-centric low-cost machines--the mobile segment has seen growth at a rapid rate. For the netbook alone, Shenoy said, Intel is forecasting some 50 million units to be shipped by 2011.

The executive said with about 1 billion PCs are now connected to the Internet.

"Industry research shows that video is the single biggest driver of Internet use," Shenoy said. "And while there are still more desktops than mobile PCs, the next billion connected people are likely to [go online via] a mobile device."

Intel has also been aggressively ramping efforts for its upcoming microprocessor line-up, including the Atom processor, which the company said will soon power all its Netbook offerings.

According to Shenoy, Intel will also introduce an Atom version for the desktop, which will power Nettop PCs.

Current Netbooks are powered by an older Intel Celeron M processor, but come June--in line with the chip's expected launch--Netbooks and Nettops will have an Atom processor, Shenoy said.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.