Intel, Microsoft, and the Curious Case of the iPad

Brooke Crothers:

“That tablet thing? Yeah, we’ll get back to you on that.” That’s a crude but fairly accurate encapsulation of the attitude Microsoft, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices have toward the iPad and the tablet market in general.

Why the cavalier attitude? Before I defer to the opinion of an IDC analyst I interviewed (below), here’s one pretty obvious reason I’ll put forward. All three companies look at their revenue streams — traditional PC hardware and software on laptops, desktops, and servers — and come to the conclusion that the tablet is a marginal market. A deceptively accurate conclusion, because at this point in time — and even 12 months out — the tablet is marginal compared with the gargantuan laptop, desktop, and server markets.

An interesting take, but I disagree. I think Microsoft and Intel are both taking the iPad’s success extremely seriously. It may be a small market, as of today, but the trend line is heading north at a very steep angle. I think it’s a case where you can’t take what Microsoft and Intel say about it at face value. Intel has no processor to power an iPad-class device. Microsoft has no OS to run an iPad-class device. Most worrying for these companies may not be the iPad itself, but the fact that iPad competitors — scant though they are, as of today — aren’t running Intel processors or Microsoft software.

Monday, 18 October 2010