As an investor in Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), I'm interested in the following three things:
- The health of the PC market and the company's ability to gain share
- The health of Intel's data-center business
- Intel's ability to become a major player in the smartphone and tablet markets
Going into Intel's CES keynote, I had expected that Intel would showcase next generation mobile devices based on Intel silicon and the partnerships that it has forged with the leading device manufacturers in this space. However, I was very disappointed.
The Keynote Started Great, But...
The keynote actually kicked off pretty well, with CEO Brian Krzanich talking up the "Internet of Things" and the ability of the company's next generation ultra low power "Quark" products to make everyday objects "smart." Heck, I was downright impressed when Intel announced its next generation "Quark" product code-named "Edison" built on the company's totally kick-ass 22 nanometer FinFET manufacturing process.
However, from there it turned into..."fluff" pretty quickly. Instead of telling investors and industry watchers about how great its next generation Merrifield smartphone platform is or how it'll get Bay Trail-based Android tablets to market in short order, we were instead treated to a bevy of conceptually interesting ideas that, unfortunately, aren't going to move the needle on Intel's top and bottom lines.
Yes it's fantastic that Intel isn't going to "miss the boat" on the Internet of Things, and yes, perceptual computing may one day be usable enough to drive a need for significantly more computing power, but this isn't the good stuff, and this isn't what is going to make Intel investors any money in the short- to medium-term.
Where Are The Android Bay Trail Tablets, And Where's Merrifield?
Intel hyped up a "dual OS" ASUS Transformer Book Duet, but we didn't get a glimpse of Android running on Bay Trail tablets, nor did Intel talk about its next generation 22 nanometer "Merrifield" smartphone platform. While I understand that Mobile World Congress is a more appropriate venue for these sorts of announcements, keep in mind that Intel and its partners are already horribly late to getting Bay Trail based Android systems to market, so any updates would have been appreciated.
Further, as doubts continue to loom about Intel's Merrifield platform's competitiveness against the latest from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) (see my competitive analysis here), it would have been nice to at the very least see some performance numbers from the reference design. I believe Intel is being rather coy with this platform because it is under-designed for its end-markets, although I do hope I'm wrong there.
At any rate, updates on these two items would have been nice, but it looks like we'll have to wait for Mobile World Congress - the more traditional venue for mobile announcements.
It looks like CES was a complete non-event for Intel. The update on Quark was encouraging and it was heartening to see Intel fully embrace the "internet of things," but as far as moving the needle on the top line goes, these are distractions from the real issues. Here's hoping for a good earnings call on January 16th and for an impressive Mobile World Congress showing.