PC desktop market will continue in the long term, Intel says

Mobile computing will, however, be the larger market

Even as it is pushing mobile computing, Intel expects desktop computers to continue to be in demand in the long term, an Intel executive said on Thursday.

"Desktops will be around for as long as you can think about computing," said Rob Crooke, vice president and general manager of Intel's Business Client Group. The larger market will, however, be for mobile computing, he added.

Intel has invested heavily in mobile computing, which includes a variety of devices from laptops to mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and netbooks -- small, low-cost laptops. But there are still some categories of corporate users and consumers who want to buy a desktop, Crooke said.

Intel will be shipping this year and early next year processors and chip sets that will be used in desktops, including Clarkdale, a processor based on Intel's Nehalem architecture. The new processor, which is scheduled to begin production in the fourth quarter, will have an integrated graphics die within the processor package, and will be made using Intel's 32-nanometer process. The company plans to combine Clarkdale with its vPro technology for security and manageability for the corporate market, Crooke said.

Research firm IDC forecast on Thursday that worldwide desktop PC shipments would decline from 144.9 million in 2008 to 128.8 million in 2013. Portable PC shipments are forecast to rise in the same period from 142.4 million to 291 million. People are now buying a desktop instead of a mobile computing device because it meets a particular need, and the need may vary from one market segment to another, according to Crooke. Intel believes that as a result the worldwide desktop market is moving from one high-volume market model to distinct evolving segments: corporate; nettops; lifestyle and small form factor (SFF); and the enthusiast segment, Crooke said. Computer enthusiasts like gamers want the ultimate in performance, but they also want flexibility in the platform to put in different add-in cards and to try out solid-state disks and new media capabilities, said Crooke.

Intel announced earlier this month two Intel Core i7 processors, the model number 975 at 3.33GHz and the 950 at 3.06GHz, which are targeted at the enthusiast market. The enthusiast market lets Intel test new technologies that later become mainstream in the desktop market, Crooke said.Users in the lifestyle and SFF segment want the product in a fixed location in their homes, and they want a large format screen, but they still want the computer to be attractive, and in a small form factor, Crooke added. The corporate sector offers the largest market for desktops and is likely to continue to be the largest in the future, according to Crooke.

Although laptops will be the majority of client computers in the corporate sector, there are still some high-volume applications where desktops make sense, Crooke said. There is no need of mobility, for example, for a nurse's station or a retail counter, he added. "If you are running a small business, you might not want your employees to take the PCs home," Crooke said.The lower cost of desktops will also be a factor, he added.

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