Apple, Intel results show laptop alive and well

Apple and Intel demonstrate that the laptop isn't dying and may even be cutting into sales of the device that's supposed to replace it.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Hackneyed headlines notwithstanding, the PC isn't dying, won't die, and, in fact, may be eating into sales of the very thing that is ostensibly "killing" it.

The MacBook Air may be eating into iPad sales, according to analysts.
The MacBook Air may be eating into iPad sales, according to analysts. Apple

It may be the tablet that's due for a reality check. "You have to wonder if the MacBook Air isn't cannibalizing the iPad," Ashok Kumar, an analyst and Rodman & Renshaw, said in a phone interview. Kumar was reacting to Apple's financial results yesterday that showed lower iPad shipments than analysts expected (11 million actually shipped versus estimates of 13 million to 14 million). "That's a sizable shortfall. You would have to presume that is due to the MacBook Air," he said.

Keith Bachman, BMO Capital Markets, said the same thing: "While we believe that MacBook Air sales may have cannibalized some of iPads, we are disappointed in iPad sales. We have reduced our iPad estimates by 2.5 million units in FY2012."

Apple shipped a record 4.89 million Macs, most of them MacBooks, in the fourth quarter.

And remember that tablets from Google's Android camp (Motorola, Samsung et al) aren't exactly flying off the shelves. While Amazon's Kindle Fire holds a lot of promise, it and Hewlett-Packard's now-defunct TouchPad tablet prove that price points have to be way below even a low-end laptop (which, by the way, sell annually in the hundreds of millions) to generate broad buyer interest in that platform.

Need further proof? Intel continues to defy conventional wisdom by shipping lots and lots of laptop processors. Intel's record-setting third-quarter results, also reported Tuesday, were "driven largely by double-digit unit growth in notebook PCs," according to CEO Paul Otellini. That said, it does have analysts scratching their heads because of the mistmatch with market researchers' quarterly figures.

Intel contends that market researchers may be underreporting--perish the thought--robust sales in emerging markets.

Of course, this won't stop another journalist from writing the most overused headline in the annals of tech reporting: the PC is dead! Whatever.