Intel and Apple
Intel just held their annual Analyst Summit, which is always a joy to attend because they are such an amazing execution business run by very smart people. A year ago, they were somewhat in denial about the shifts being driven by the iPhone, iPad and iCloud but they seem to have moved to the acceptance phase now. Intel is right to say that the PC isn’t going away anytime soon; they have every reason to expect robust low-end PC growth in developing countries as wages grow. But it’s striking to me how much the game has changed. A year ago they introduced the Ultra Book program aimed at getting very sleek, MacBook Air like notebooks into the market. The first ones introduced all seemed expensive, which is surprising considering that Apple has always been the “expensive” one. And then you realize that Apple consumes 50% of the world production in some flash categories, and has a clear supply advantage. Intel talks about how new systems like the Ultra Book can accelerate buyer refresh cycles and how much revenue that can bring into the PC ecology, which of course is very true until you compare it to (say) the iPad where the critics wonder if the new iPad is going to be sexy enough to cause buyers of the last generation to want one, not whether people will replace their five year old systems with a new laptop. I believe the cynics are right and that Apple at some point will come down from a trillion dollar valuation, but right now it’s Apple that’s transforming the world, driving by what people, like us, are buying. I held on to by beloved Blackberry until last fall, and didn’t buy an iPad until the 3rd generation. But I’m not looking back, not so much because the iDevices are sleek and cool, but rather because of the remarkable apps I can now use (and do).