‘Know thyself’, was the motto of the ancient world. ‘Don’t be evil,’ is Google’s. ‘Don’t be boring’ is the adage of the high-tech consumer world.
Boredom kills. It’s killing Sony and Nokia and it may kill Intel. While you can get away with screwing your customers, short-changing your customers and fooling your customers - as Intel has demonstrated - you can’t get away with boring your customers.
While the CPU market is growing in single digit percentages, the applications processor market is growing at 40% a year and, by 2015, the value of the markets will match at around $33-34 billion, according to Nomura.
This will have important consequences.
ARM, of course, is dominant in the fastest growing processor end markets such as tablets and smartphones and Intel is dominant in slow-growing markets like notebooks, stagnant markets like desktops and declining markets like netbooks.
Intel’s iron grip on the netbook, notebook and desktop markets means that the products all look the same, and there’s been little innovation. Consumers are increasingly finding these product categories boring. ‘Intel Inside’ now equates with ‘Boring Outside’..
For excitement and innovation, consumers go to smartphones and tablets where volumes are soaring.
One interesting consequence of the rise of the apps processor, according to Nomura, is that, with ARM-based processors expected to move into computing, this gives Samsung its chance to overtake Intel in the processor market.
The gap is wide at the moment, with Intel’s chip revenue at $50 billion and Samsung’s at $30 billion, but a move to ARM-based computing could see Samsung closing the gap, says Nomura.
The battle lines are drawn between Intel’s lead in process geometry and ARM’s lead in power efficiency and lower production cost.
Is Intel’s 22nm finfet process really going to deliver chips as power-efficient and cost-competitive as ARM’s?
Forget Intel’s marketing BS – the proof of this particular pudding will be in the eating.