Intel talks up hybrids, again

Intel-logoIf we didn’t know any better, we could be forgiven for saying that Intel is starting to lose the plot and panic over its less than impressive showing in mobile.

Just a few quarters ago the chipmaker was making next to no noise on tablets and smartphones, but with the appointment of new CEO Brian Krzanich, Intel changed its tune in a matter of weeks.

Its last earnings call was practically all about Atom. The company barely mentioned Haswell, which launched during the same quarter. Then came a lot of talk about hybrids, 2-in-1s, tablets and touch enabled Ultrabooks, which we like to call touchbooks around the office.

Speaking at a UBM Channel event in Washington earlier this week, Intel’s North American Channel Manager Todd Garrigues said the PC is “not dead yet” and went on to deliver some “good news” for solution providers selling desktops and notebooks. Quite predictably, the “good news” was all about 2-in-1s and hybrids. He then proceeded to show the crowd a couple of such devices, like the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, reports CRN.

It appears that Intel execs can no longer leave the office without bringing a sample 2-in-1 hybrid with them for some sort of demo. Just a few days ago we had a chance to see Intel President Renee James showing off a Sony Vaio hybrid during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. In the interview James said Intel is now treating Atom and Core equally, which wasn’t the case in the past.

Garrigues also talked up hybrids, saying they combine the portability and ease of use of a tablet with the productivity of a traditional PC. That is the official line at least. We are not sure they do – hybrids will remain a lot pricier than tablets and unless they end up a lot bigger than tablets, they won’t be that great for productivity. It basically sounds like a carmaker promising to develop a new vehicle, part supermini, part pickup. Just because it can be made doesn’t mean it should, and it doesn’t mean it will bring the best of both worlds to the end user.

Garrigues used the opportunity to mention the XP phase-out. He said there are millions of antiquated PC running XP out there, so it’s time for an upgrade.

“Bottom line: There are 500 million PCs out there in the world that are four years or older,” Garrigues said. “So there’s a great opportunity.”

It might be a great opportunity, but it is also a figure that should keep Intel execs awake at night. There’s no better proof that the PC is mature than half a billion people working on ancient 4+ years old PCs and refusing to upgrade. No amount of swanky hybrids will change this.