Middle East shuns Intel’s Itanium platform

Slow time to market, high cost and lack of applications result in disappointing sales

  • E-Mail
By  Matthew Southwell Published  April 23, 2002

|~||~||~|At the end of 2001 Gartner Group reported that Intel had only managed to sell around 72 Itanium systems. Gartner Group’s Andy Butler called the number of systems shipped “laughable.” At the same time, IDC revealed that just 1135 Itanium based workstations had been sold in the third quarter of 2001, 57% of which were bought by co-developer Hewlett-Packard.

Now it appears that the lack of enthusiasm for Intel’s latest chipset has spread to the Middle East. Recent research from ACN’s publishing company, ITP, shows that 63% of the region’s users have no intention of moving to the IA64/Itanium platform. An additional 21% will not consider it for a further 12 months.

A number of local industry players are unsurprised by the results. Johann Muller, product & marketing manager at Sun Microsystems, believes that the primary reason for Intel’s low sales is the high cost of Itanium.

IBM’s manager of system sales for the Middle East & Pakistan, Michael Paier believes it is down to the time it took to actually deliver the technology. “Once you are behind schedule in technology, people get really dissatisfied,” he says.

Yasser Ragaei, product marketing manager for high performance servers at Compaq Gulf & Levant, adds that performance is also a key factor in IA64’s relative failure. “The expectations for the Itanium platform were that it would equal or outperform its RISC competitors by 2001 or 2002. This has not happened and that is why people are reluctant to go to Itanium,” he explains.

Even HP remains unsure when the technology will take off. Charles Ashman, director of product & solution sales at HP, thinks that there will be growth in Itanium servers towards the back end of the year. Hopefully, he adds, 20% of the vendor’s local customer base will begin migrating to IA64 this time next year.

Intel readily accepts that sales of its initial IA64 offering have been disappointing. Ferhad Patel, e-business manager for Intel in the Middle East & North Africa, explains that local adoption has been slow for a combination of reasons.

“Take up has been slow because it [Itanium] is an enterprise system, and they typically have slower sales cycles. The second thing is the economy and the final factor is that we were waiting for a number of applications to be tried, tested and validated,” he explains.
Intel claims that there are more than one hundred applications currently in production and Roland Jones, Intel’s MENA PR manager, has hinted that the vendor has signed a deal with a “big ISV locally.”

Despite such positive movements, Intel now appears to be pinning its hopes on the next generation of Itanium chips. As such, Patel argues that “Itanium is actually being used more as a development platform, whereas McKinley will really be the time when a lot of the large corporate companies adopt IA64.”

Such a statement certainly fits the predictions of the analyst community. Gartner Europe’s Ian Brown, who currently sees Itanium as “purely a development platform,” does not believe that sales will increase until sometime next year.

“We don’t really see the IA64 market starting to take off until the 2003/2004 timeframe simply because the applications aren’t there… There will not be much movement in the market until 2003. By then [Intel] will have established McKinley boxes in the market,” he says.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code