Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) has certainly had an interesting 2012. The firm finally made a distinct entry into the mobile device market, but lost more than 15% of it’s share value, and lost a CEO, in the process. 2012, was a year in which Intel promised a great deal but never really got anywhere.
The history of the ultrabook is as instructive as anything else on the firm’s 2012 calendar. Inter Corporation first outlined what an ultrabook would be back in 2011, but 2012 was the year when the first true examples of the form appeared. There are exceptional machines among them, and the launch of Windows 8 has ushered in a Cambrian explosion for notebook design, but something went wrong along the road.
The marketing of ultrabooks was not controlled tightly enough by Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC). The result has been the mislabeling of all sorts of computers as ultrabooks, diluting the concept in the mind of the public.
Intel sought to take the game to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and failed in the exact area that Apple excels in. Only a handful of people familiar with the tech industry would mistake a MacBook Air for a Macbook Pro. Some of the uses of the word ‘ultrabook’, are closer to mistaking Macbook Air for an iBook G4.
So 2012 was not the year in which ultrabooks took over the notebook market. It was the year that companies like Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) and Toshiba Corp (TYO:6502) (PINK:TOSBF) stretched and pulled at the term ultrabook, until they thought it could accurately describe most of their notebooks. This was not unexpected. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) should have done better.
After failing to truly reinvigorate the notebook business, Intel corporation has also seen it profits erode due to cannibalization of the notebook and desktop PC market by the tablet market. 2012 was the year that Intel managed an entry into that market, but that entry has, so far, been less than titillating.
Intel has, at last, begun to put its processors in Windows 8 tablets, but those tablets are much more expensive than the Windows 8 models carrying its major competitor ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ:ARMH) (LON:ARM) chips. This makes demand lower, the company’s real market share in tablets is an estimated 0%.
Intel has yet to make a meaningful contribution to the smart phone market either. Electronics manufacturers are still building their products off of the more well established ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ:ARMH) (LON:ARM) chips, and those built by NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA). Intel’s Medfield chips have only appeared in a couple of models, and nothing that made any best selling lists.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) will be successful in the mobile space. It is almost guaranteed. That is the only reason the company has stayed as strong as it has over the course of 2012. Very few other tech companies enjoy the confidence that investors have in Intel.
The real problem, as with so many other things, is when the day will come. Intel will be a major force in the mobile market, but will that be today? 2013? Or will we have to wait for the fabled Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) smart watch to appear?