Wintel Update – CES 2012 Minus Daze One

No Really, You're Fired

Disclaimer: Patrick is a 15 year veteran of Intel where he held a number of marketing positions implementing Wintel and industry programs during the 1980s and 1990’s.

This last day before CES officially starts tomorrow was mostly a press event day for CES vendors. I decided to make it a Wintel day, attending an Intel update for the press in the morning and the last Microsoft CES keynote in the evening. As we walked to the Venetian casino meeting room in the morning, Zac observed that technology was funny. Once you’ve seen something innovative, a year later it’s considered old hat and stale. That observation was to come back at me again and again during the day.

Intel Press Event
Intel vs. AppleIntel still has amazing clout with the press. That was shown as the press event room was at full capacity and turning press away. The presentation to the press was by Mooly Eden, the general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group, and focused on the user experience Intel hoped to deliver with Ultrabooks in 2012. As I listened to the range of items, I grew depressed since I felt I was watching an Apple product roadmap presentation from years ago.

I know supplying 370 million PCs a year is vastly different from Apple’s 5 million Macs. However, I remember Intel as a creator of new products and product features, part of the famous (or infamous) Wintel alliance. Heck, Intel and Microsoft kicked ass and moved markets. Normal historical PC product costs decreases, given the 4 years since the original Apple MacBook Air introduction, indicates Ultrabook PCs should already be mainsteam $500 to $1000 PC systems. Instead, we’re getting a future’s pitch of yesterday’s technologies. From the comparison chart I whipped up in minutes, I can only conclude that Intel, and the PC industry as a whole, have become technology followers. Damn that’s depressing. I’m hoping that the Intel keynote tomorrow by Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel, will prove me wrong.

The Last Microsoft CES Keynote

Press Waiting For MSFT

Like Intel, Microsoft is a major draw with the press. This year had the added drama of Microsoft and CES having a falling out with Microsoft dropped from future CES keynotes and Microsoft withdrawing from future CES trade shows. The last Microsoft CES Keynote started out with Gary Shapiro, president of Consumer Electronics Association, doing the introduction, and trying to polish the turd of CES dumping Microsoft. Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, was gracious and just smiled through the exercise.

The last keynote was a typical Microsoft keynote, the same format as any other Microsoft keynote for the last 10 years or more. That is the problem. Ballmer starts out, sometimes with a celebrity moderator like tonight’s Ryan Seacrest. Then 3 or 4 product managers/directors come out and speal off the features of their products, finally a product demo. Now, to be fair, some of the Microsoft technology is bleeding edge. I can see the new Metro interface having value. I found Microsoft’s push to make X-box the consumer home hub vs. a PC interesting. The problem I have is nothing presented was new. If you track Microsoft developer programs and events, you saw 90% of this pitch 6 months ago. Even Ballmer, when queried by Ryan Seacrest about “What’s new?”, replied “In 2012 it’s Windows 8, Window 8 and Windows 8”. That’s an execution response. If I’m a Microsoft stock holder, I say “Bless your little heart Steve Ballmer. Thank you”. I agree it’s important for Microsoft as a corporation to make Windows 8 a business and financial success. However, to me, the consumer, it’s not new. Microsoft’s execution issues are not my problem. I found myself checking my Apple iPhone for the time remaining and wishing the keynote event was over.

To sum up, the days of Wintel innovation seem to be over at both Microsoft and Intel.

I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my (Wintel) friend.
– Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding‎, Shawshank Redemption 1994

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1 Response

  1. Norm says:

    Nice observations. Reminds me of Steve Jobs’ approach of avoiding the use consumer focus groups to guide his product visioning. Wintel appears to embrace consumer focus groups since they support what the consumer can see and want. Nice business model if you want to follow. As opposed to Jobs, who felt the consumer could not envision the future and needed to be lead to what they want. Intel must have missed reading that chapter in the biography.

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