By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. August 23, 2017
Steve Jobs’ 2011 launch of Apple’s all-new iPad seemed like a homerun from the start. Following three years of stunning iPhone success, the concept of a far larger yet still highly portable device with excellent battery life that also ran iPhone apps appeared to further polish Apple’s and Jobs’ reputations for go-to-market genius.
But after a couple of years, cracks began to show in the iPad façade, especially as regards Apple’s attempts to pitch it as a fully-capable replacement for PCs. That strategy ignored Jobs’ original vision of the iPad as a “third” device that logically fit between the capabilities of powerful PCs and highly portable smart phones. Plus, it downplayed or ignored the iPad’s inherent form and performance limitations.
In fact, after hitting an historical high of over 26M units sold in Q1 2014, iPad sales had begun a steady, seemingly irreversible decline. That led some at Apple to double-down on the PC-replacement angle, including CEO TIM Cook who, in a 2015 interview stated, “I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?”
Cook was likely trying to prepare the ground for the all-new iPad Pro, but by intimating that the iPad was a be-all/end-all for PC users, Cook was dreadfully off the mark. Apple and other overly-ambitious tablet cheerleaders were also undone by the innovative efforts of PC component makers and vendors.
Those companies recognized that some PC customers can become frustrated by the limitations of desktop and laptop solutions, but rather than ignoring those issues or wistfully waving farewell as customers abandoned ship, PC players buckled down and developed innovative technologies and compelling new products.
Those efforts seem to be paying off. While PC sales have dropped significantly over the past half-decade, recent research by IDC suggests the market has stabilized. That’s substantially due to the vendors who inspired existing PC owners to stay put and actively brought new customers aboard.
Central to that success is the work Intel has put into its PC microprocessors. The company’s launch of its new 8th generation Core processors demonstrates that the evolution of the PC continues apace. In fact, Intel’s latest Core solutions are likely to spark fresh interest in PCs, buoy sales of new systems and drive additional market momentum.
What to expect from 8th gen Core
So what exactly has Intel achieved that makes its new processors and chipsets so compelling? A remarkable boost in performance, first and foremost.
In a blog, Gregory M. Bryant, SVP and GM of Intel’s Client Computing Group said that new Core mobile processors designed for thin and light premium notebooks and 2-in-1s, and advanced gaming systems will deliver up to 40% better performance over last year’s solutions. Plus, they do that without impacting battery life. That’s notable by any measure. Bryant also said that the last time the company delivered a similar gen-over-gen power boost was around a decade ago.
Taking a slightly longer view, solutions with the new Core silicon will be twice as powerful as 2012 notebooks. That’s beside the fact that they’ll offer more capacious memory and storage, and far better quality displays. Some may consider that window dressing but it gains substance when you consider estimates that over half a billion PCs over five years old are still in service worldwide, making them ripe targets for upgrade/replacement.
What can PC owners expect from these improvements in practical terms? Here are four points to remember:
- That many of the laptops sporting the new Core chips will be able to support to 10 hours of 4K UHD local video playback on a single charge.
- That PCs with new Core silicon will easily support 4k video, increasingly complex immersive content, a wide variety of games and increasingly mainstream virtual reality (VR) offerings, including those leveraging Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality.
- That editing photos and creating slideshows will be up to 48% faster on 8th gen Core vs. devices powered by last year’s Core chips.
- That editing video footage on a new Core-equipped system is up to 14.7X faster than a 5-year old PC. That a project that required 45 minutes of rendering time in 2012 can be completed in about 3 minutes on a notebook or 2-in-1 with Intel’s new chips.
In other words, the practical, technical and value arguments for buying new or replacing older PCs have never been stronger.
Which brings us back to Tim Cook’s 2015 question: Why would you buy a PC?
- How about because PC components continue to measurably improve, allowing PC OEMs to continually develop and deliver ever more powerful, capable and innovative products.
- Or because along with conventional mainstream applications, new generation PCs also fully support emerging workloads, great new games and increasingly sophisticated media and entertainment.
- Or because rather than promising that tablets and other niche products are great for jobs and use cases well-beyond their capabilities, PC vendors instead deliver top-line systems that cut no corners, offer no excuses and take no prisoners.
As has been the case for decades, Intel remains central to PCs’ evolution and value propositions. The company’s new 8th generation Core processors are both notable extensions of the company’s past achievements and a stake in the ground for what consumer and business PC customers can expect from Intel and its OEM partners both now and in the future.
Why would you buy a PC? With its new 8th gen Core solutions, Intel has answered the question clearly and decisively. But in doing so the company has also shown that folks claiming the contrary aren’t honest questioners. They’re simply wishful thinking competitors who, with the arrival of Intel’s newest Core chips, are heading for further disappointment.
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