Intel and Microsoft may not have always played nice with each other over the last 25 years, but there is no doubt the alliance between the two has defined the PC era spanning over two decades.
As much as the two dominated our computing experience, the significance of both is "waning," says market research firm IHS.
If the computer market is defined as PC, smartphone and tablet, then IHS expects Microsoft's OS share to drop from 44-percent in 2011 to just 33-percent in 2016, and Intel's processor share to drop from 41-percent to 29-percent. But if forecast becomes reality and we assume that Intel's announcements to play a bigger role in smartphone and tablet markets (including neighboring segments such as the automotive and TV market) can now be considered the expanded PC market, this scenario may cause some headaches during Intel's board meetings.
In the end, Intel's business model as a chip maker is to sell more chips every year. We also know that Intel does not like to settle for second place, yet the largest part of the "computer market" may not be Intel-based, which could undermine the power and influence Intel has in the market today.
"Microsoft and Intel once marched shoulder to shoulder, dominating the PC market with their closely tied operating system and microprocessor technologies," said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst compute platforms at IHS. "In the PC segment, Wintel extracted the majority of the profits, controlled every move and compelled all other players to either comply or risk being forced out of the game. While still an overwhelming influence in their respective markets, the tables have turned for Microsoft and Intel."
IHS believes that Intel has captured only 6- to 8-percent of market share in the mobile handset processor revenue business, and this has been mainly due to its acquisition of Infineon's wireless business -- Microsoft currently has 2-percent of the mobile devices OS business. In a response to the threat, IHS said that Intel has gone "back to its bread and butter, the notebook, by making a complete overhaul of the system to make it ultrathin, ultraportable, and ultramobile" as well as leveraging Google's Android for its Atom SoCs in smartphones and tablets. Similarly, Microsoft is opening Windows to ARM processor makers.
"Wintel now is playing in a new computer market that is a composite of the PC, smartphone and media tablet segments," Stice said. "While this may be a non-traditional way of looking at the PC market, tradition has gone out the window. The smartphone influenced the tablet, the tablet influenced the PC, the PC wants to become more like a tablet and the tablet more like a PC. It’s a vicious circle in which both Intel and Microsoft must take part, but they are losing control of the game and how it’s played. The Wintel camp is not accustomed to following, but with both companies being excluded of the two fastest-growing markets, they are in catch-up mode."