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The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.



) - On Monday, Mark Moskowitz, JP Morgan IT hardware analyst, lowered his 2011 PC unit estimates from up 9.5% year to year to up 7.0% year to year due to several reasons.

He attributed the lower estimates to "stalling PC demand in China, weak global consumer PC demand, demand leakage to tablets, an expected deceleration in commercial PC growth, and the elongation of the useful lives of PCs.

" In addition, the top four PC OEMs (over 50% of total PC demand) have all recently missed and/or lowered guidance, while a few notebook ODMs recently lowered 1Q11 shipment estimates. As a result, we believe Intel is at risk of missing the midpoint of its 1Q11 revenue guidance."

The Atom was Intel's first misfire. I noted back in January 2009 that Intel lost as much a $1 billion is misjudging the success of the netbook and switching production from more lucrative notebook chips like the Penryn to make up for a shortfall in Atom chips.

Much of the ballyhoo in the netbook debate over market growth and Atom versus ARM processors is history. The netbook market is dead. Out of the ashes came the media tablet. The debate between Atom and ARM has now merely been moved to a different platform.

Atom held a dominate market position for the netbook because it could do compute intensive tasks such as MS Office functions using Microsoft Windows software. ARM was delegated primarily to Internet surfing and apps. With the netbook market dead, the problem for Intel is that consumers are not purchasing the media tablet as a lower cost, more portable netbook to tote around. They are buying it to surf the Web and Internet apps.

Intel announced at its fourth-quarter conference call that it is expanding with low-power Atom chips to compete with ARM chips. Intel says its chips will be used in 35 different tablets and an unspecified number of smart phones, but it's behind competitors such as


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Texas Instruments


and even

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, which makes its own chips for the iPad.

Now comes a major blow to Intel's dreams of its Atom: Windows 8 will run on ARM. While Windows CE supported ARM devices, it offered lackluster performance.



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Windows 8 move is likely due to the market momentum of Google's Android. So, for any media tablet owner that does want to do computer intensive tasks, Windows 8 on ARM offers a viable opportunity.

Misfire 2 is Intel's belief that it will compete successfully against ARM in the smartphone market.

The problem is ARM owns the Mobile Internet Device (MID) space. They own 95% of the mobile phone market and 85% of the smartphone market in unit shipments. ARM processors are being manufactured in the best semiconductor facilities.

Companies that are currently or formerly ARM licensees include










Cirrus Logic

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, Digital Equipment Corporation, Freescale, Intel (through DEC), LG Group,

Marvell Technology Group

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, NEC,


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, NXP (previously Philips), Oki,


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, Samsung, Sharp,

ST Microelectronics

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, Symbios Logic,

Texas Instruments






VLSI Technology


, Yamaha and ZiiLABS.

Misfire number 3 is Intel not recognizing that the PC market business is yesterday's news, and the market growth is a far cry from the growth recently seen and projected for smartphones and media tablets.

Yet Intel announced last month it will spend $5 billion on a new fab in Oregon to make 14-nanometer chips - smaller chips to compete against ARM chips already smaller and already dominating the same market Intel is going after.

As I said in December 2009, in a


article, Intel needs to buy ARM Holdings as the only solution to being a dominant player in the mobile market. Intel keeps skirting the issue, misfire 4. It purchased Infineon for $1.4 billion last year because Infineon's ships are used in smartphones. Even more interesting, Intel's acquiring Infineon's business came four years after selling its ARM business to Marvell, another misfire.

It's not clear what the purchase price of ARM would be, but the $5 billion spent by Intel on a new fab to build chips to compete against ARM would probably do the trick. Intel doesn't have much time. Once Windows 8 comes out, it will put them further behind.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.