Looking back at Intel‘s surprisingly good earnings report on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but be struck by the clear and thoughtful way in which CEO Paul Otellini talked about the iPad and the tablet market in general.
Here’s an excerpt from his comments on the call, as transcribed on Seeking Alpha:
“We think tablets are exciting and we fully welcome their arrival. Apple has done a wonderful job reinventing the category….Will they impact PC sales? Sure. At the margin, they probably will. Consumers will have a limited amount of discretionary income and some will choose to purchase a tablet instead of upgrading at existing PC or purchasing a netbook in any given period.
“Our design win momentum is very strong, and in the coming months and quarters, you will see Intel solutions that run on Windows, Android and MeeGo operating systems across a variety of form factors and price points. We fully expect to participate broadly and profitably in this category, and that in the end, the tablet category will be additive to our bottom line and not take away from it.”
“I don’t think everybody wants a slate. I’ve been to too many meetings with journalists who’d spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting setting up their iPad to look like a laptop….Some people are going to want a device that is screen and keyboard that spins around for inking purposes. Some people are going to want things very light or very cheap or very expensive or very powerful. All of those things are going to be important, and we’ve got a push right now with our hardware partners.”
And here he was a few days ago, talking to CNET:
“You certainly see more [iPads] than I would like. One is more than I would like. On the other hand, it depends what people are doing. Certainly someone who wants to sit and do an interview and take notes and scroll around, they are unlikely to find that device very comfortable. It doesn’t stand up on its own. It doesn’t have a big screen and keyboard. I’m not taking anything away from what Apple has done and certainly we have our work cut out for us….Most forecasters have PCs up double digits and that’s on a base that’s 350 million. On the other hand we’ve got more competition for the PC than we ever have.”
Paul Otellini gets it. Slates are here today. They are changing the PC market today. Intel doesn’t power most of them. He understands that needs to change, and quickly.
Ballmer might simply be downplaying the importance of the iPad until Microsoft has an answer. Or, more frighteningly, he really might believe what he’s saying, and think that full-powered Windows 7 computers will continue to drive the consumer market.