Can Intel’s Skylake chip rescue falling PC sales in 2016

While it won’t take long to determine the market impact of Skylake and Windows 10, it may take the next few quarters to learn if their synergy resuscitates PC sales

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Can Intel’s Skylake chip rescue falling PC sales in 2016 ((ITP Images))
By  Manda Banda Published  January 25, 2016

In the third quarter of 2015, Intel released its Skylake processor family, the sixth generation of its Core chip, offering improved performance and lowered power consumption for an entire range of PCs, from notebooks to gaming systems.

The chip giant, in a nod to the range of systems and devices in Skylake’s sights, segmented the processor family by four series: the “Y” for 2-in-1 convertibles, tablets and Intel’s Compute Stick; the “U” for ultrathin notebooks and all-in-one portables; the “H” for gaming notebooks and mobile workstations; and the “S” for desktops, all-in-ones and smaller PCs.

That’s the hardware part of the story. But there’s more to the backdrop to put the processor’s emergence in context.

At the start of the second half of 2015, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich blamed continually falling PC sales on macroeconomic conditions and consumer sentiment ahead of both Microsoft’s Windows 10 and the Skylake processor. Nevertheless, Krzanich sounded an optimistic tone that there’s always a little bit of a stall right before a new product like Skylake, combined with a new OS like Windows 10.

At the time, Gartner and IDC agreed not only with each other but also with Krzanich. Each researcher said Q2 worldwide PC shipments tumbled precipitately, with the former showing a 9.5% decline, the steepest quarterly dip in nearly two years, and the latter pointing to an 11.% dip.

But neither painted a rosy picture for the year.

If IDC doesn’t think Skylake and Windows 10 will bring PCs into positive territory for another two years, Krzanich must believe, then, that Skylake will rescue the PC market, at least to a degree, from its extended doldrums. But will it?

If there is a PC shipment silver bullet for the Middle East channel, it may be closer to the combined effect of Skylake and Windows 10. The favorable timing of Windows 10’s release and Skylake is no accident that the two complementary platforms came to market at the same time. When you consider that Microsoft wants Windows 10 on every PC and mobile device in the world, and Intel wants Skylake to power everything and anything that runs on a chip, Krzanich’s optimism makes perfect sense.

While it won’t take that long to determine the market impact of Skylake and Windows 10, it may take the next few quarters of 2016 to learn if their synergy resuscitates the PC market.

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