How Intel's IDF Outperformed Apple's Launch

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There were two warring events this Tuesday, one that had a ton of media attention surrounding Apple’s new phones, watch, and phone payment app and another from Intel.   Having watched both and recognizing that Intel builds parts not complete products - I was surprised that Intel actually seemed to out execute Apple.  I don’t recall that ever happening before - at least not with consumer products -  but Intel brought their “A” game and, I hate to say this, Apple basically phoned it in.   Don’t get me wrong, the Apple products were great - but the magic Apple was so famous for under Jobs, just isn’t there under Cook.  Let me explain. 

Launch Drama

What makes events like this fun are the little surprises that some of the more practiced presenters toss in unexpectedly.  Steve Jobs had “that one more thing” he would bring in at the end of one of his presentations that would have a crowd roaring but Tim Cook’s “one more thing” seems to be free music and a top on-stage band - not a cool new unexpected product. 

Intel actually had their own form of excitement when they brought up a new tablet that looked big, clunky, and out of date but had an innovative three lens camera that captured the information needed to dynamically adjust focal length after you took the picture and to measure anything you took a picture of accurately.   I think most us thought “cool camera” butt ugly tablet.  Then Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO and presenter, broke open the fake case surrounding the tablet to reveal a 6mm thin tablet that took our collective breath away but left the camera in place.   Michael Dell was then asked up on stage to talk about the tablet and he announced you’d be able to buy it in November. 

Contrast this will Apple’s new product the Apple Watch - which will miss the 4th quarter and thus the Christmas buying season.  

Cool Features

Yes Apple had bigger phones, the watch, and a new payment app.   But Intel was showcasing gigabit wireless connections (you just need to be near a wireless monitor or TV to broadcast your screen to it), inductive charging that will work through multiple layers of wood and charge all of your devices, advanced facial recognition software for security and communications, and sensor networks that could be placed anyplace and in anything.  

Fossil (they have 80 percent revenue share of watches over $100) got up and spoke to the importance of design and Intel showcased a smartwatch using their technology from a jewelry designer.   Brian hardly took a breath that wasn’t connected to a cool feature or new product that would be out shortly.   Paper thin laptops, tablets, and 2-in-1 hybrids were showcased one after the other all with a heavy focus on design.   

Then they announced Skylake a next generation processor technology due out next year with the promise that the next generation of devices would be even more powerful, thinner, and efficient.  

Apple Was Sad

Intel looked like it had fire in its belly and it was going to war. Apple, well a friend said it best in an email - their event just seemed sad.   Years after Samsung and others have had large phones, Apple finally gets one, with the massive build-up of Smartphones this year Apple can’t even get theirs to market, and while the phones looked very nice, they didn’t exactly redefine the market.  

In watching both events I was taken by how much more exciting the Intel event actually was and, while Intel doesn’t have the near rabid fan base Apple has, once you took that out of the mix, there wasn’t really anything that unexpected or new.   You had a new iPod Nano with a watch band they are calling a watch, you had a phone refresh, and you had a payment app.

Wrapping Up 

Now folks did get excited about the iPhone which was basically an iPod with a radio, the iPad which was basically an oversized iPod so an iPod with a band may go as well.  But it generally took Steve Jobs to show us that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.   That is a relatively unique skill and now lacking at Apple.  But over at Intel Brian Krzanich is showing an inclination towards magic, the ultra-thin tablet reveal was almost a magic trick and if he can expand this capability - the magic that Apple lost may end up at Intel …which is kind of ironic given Apple doesn’t use Intel for their tablets - a decision they may find revisiting at some future point much like they eventually moved to Intel on laptops.


Edited by Stefania Viscusi

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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