Intel, the world’s largest maker of semiconductors, announced that its revenue this quarter would fall from $14.7 billion to $13.7 billion. Floods in Thailand cut the world’s supply of disk drives and without the drives, manufacturers will make fewer personal computers and computer servers, meaning that fewer semiconductors will be needed. PC makers have already told Intel that they would need fewer chips.
The shortage of components and finished personal computers could prove to be a good opportunity for Intel. The company has increased its focus on the emerging category of ultrabook computers, or ultrathins, that do not use hard drives. Ultrabooks are laptops measuring less than 0.8-inch thick. They are popular with casual users because of their light weight and long battery lives. Ultrabooks weigh and cost slightly more than tablets, but the larger screen and the familiar keyboard make them an attractive alternatives to tablets.
The way people use computers is changing the need for hard drives. Previously, people needed a great deal of storage space for keeping things like music and pictures, but now many people are storing these things in the cloud and accessing them through the internet. Some people choose to store their information on an external hard drive and can hook up their ultrabook when they need access to that information.
Stacy J. Smith, Intel’s chief financial officer, said, “This does not change our view that demand for personal computers and servers is healthy and growing.” He stated that the company would also be using this as an opportunity to increase sales of solid-state drives, which are still available from Intel. Solid-state drives typically cost five to 10 times as much as disk drives, but they consume less power and take up less space. Intel has been facing complaints from manufacturers about the high prices Intel charges for processors, but the company is unlikely to reduce their prices anytime soon.
Rob Enderle, an industry analyst in San Jose, California, said, “If Intel is given lemons, it will make lemonade. It’s a chance to have an even broader Intel platform. You’ll see people pushing solid state quite a bit now, Samsung, Intel and others.”