Do Intel Retail Stores Make Sense?

Decades back Intel research showed them that people buying computers powered by their processors didn’t know who made the processor. Many people in fact thought the manufacturer of the computer such as Compaq made the CPU. This revelation launched a multibillion dollar advertising campaign focusing familiar slogans like “Intel Inside.”

Intel has since firmly established itself in the mind of consumers but the challenge the company faces these days is ARM-based products are proliferating by the billion – embedded in smartphones, tablets and other devices where low-power is important. Even HP has started using ARM in its Moonshot solution.

Another challenge – Apple’s A7 is a 64-bit processor, the first in a smartphone and its also used in its latest tablets. One doesn’t have to think that hard to see a world where desktops and laptops will be powered by a new Intel competitor – ARM, not AMD.

To counter, Intel has recently decided again to sell ARM-based processors and to open retail stores to connect more closely with consumers.

ARM is the exact sort of disruptive technology which makes incumbent competitors implode… It starts small and in a niche and grows over time. The same way inexpensive hard drives helped take out the larger vendors using technology like RAID, ARM processors are continuing to gain ground on Intel.

Will retail “experience” stores curb this problem? Probably not but like the Samsung Experience store in NYC, it will generate some goodwill and perhaps over time Intel will evolve into a retail manufacturer selling everything from processors to end-user systems. Apple more-or-less does this, Samsung does this. It may be Intel sees this is the future and doesn’t want to be left behind as the market evolves.

If this was to happen, it is worth mentioning they might have to buy companies like HTC and Dell to pull it off.

It will be fascinating to see if this is the direction the company goes in. If not though, it is tough to disagree with Doug Mohney who writes for a TMC site TechZone360 saying this move by Intel doesn’t make much sense. Hopefully it’s OK with him that I borrow his closing comments which are as follows:

Can Intel really move enough units through its Experience Stores to make them cost effective? I’m doubtful. It’s a good thing the chip manufacture has money to burn.

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