Published in PC Hardware
Analysts disappointed by CULV adoption
Clueless as usual
Analysts. Love them or hate them they do have some pull in the industry, as most investors really aren't tech savvy, and rely on information and analysis provided by the media and researchers.
Usually, they tend to get most stuff right, mainly because they have turned the art of stating the obvious into a well paid profession. Anyway, Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner seems to believe Intel's CULV platform rollout was disappointing.
"We had hoped that CULV-based notebooks would provide a compelling reason for consumers to trade up from Netbooks beginning in the second half of 2009," said Gardner. Well, actually, no. They are not supposed to, just ask Intel. Netbooks and CULV-books are two distinct product categories aimed at a totally different market. It's a bit like wondering why vegans are not rushing to try out the latest McStroke sandwich with a kilo of something that used to go "mooo" or "oink-oink" dripping out of it.
Gardner believes most PC makers "have adopted the view that CULV's 1 watt of power savings is not sufficient to justify the price premium for the processor." Well, either he made a typo, or he hasn't the slightest clue of what he's talking about. CULV parts consume 5W to 10W, while regular mobile chips consume well over 20W, with some high end chips going over 30W, easy. That's without mentioning savings from the LED backlit panel and power efficient chipset.
Gardner concludes few manufacturers are making CULV products in significant quantities, which basically means Acer is lying, and that Intel "appears to be cutting marketing support for the platform."
ThinkEquity analyst Vijay Rakesh is a tad more realistic. He believes orders from HP, Dell and Acer indicate CULV adoption rates are lower than expected, and this is something we've heard a few times already. Rakesh points out the uptake has been limited by higher production costs than originally expected, and that notebook OEMs and ODMs are still pushing more regular models.
Endpoint Technologies Associates analyst Roger Kay says there may be demand for CULV-based products, but that initial expectations were probably a bit too high. We can agree with his assessment, and his notion that Intel's timing was a bit off in this case.
Talking to some retailers I found out that many consumers are a bit worried about getting a CULV notebook, as they're really not sure about the performance. Intel has spent years marketing ever faster dual-cores, and now it's hoping people will forget all that performance talk an go for 1.3GHz or 1.4GHz single cores in 13-inch notebooks. Unlike netbook buyers, people shopping for a thin and light notebook expect a proper PC experience from their new toys.
The recent introduction of more affordable dual-core CULVs could do the trick but it will take a bit of time before the average consumer gets used to the new concept of semi-skimmed computing. A bit more intelligent, informative marketing by Intel could also help, as well as a bit less branding confusion, as they've truly made a mess of it.