Do you own a foldable PC? A dual-screen PC? How about a laptop with two screens? All but a few of you will answer “no”. So why was Samsung’s demo of a slide-out OLED display this week important?
If you ask Intel executives, the answer isn’t always what you’d expect: because it’s the other display technologies that benefit and eventually you.
Samsung Display Chief Executive JS Choi appeared on stage on the first day of Intel’s innovation conference in San Jose to showcase a 17-inch slide-out display, which extends horizontally to expand the screen. Choi said the prototype, which does not yet have a production date or price, was chosen over a collapsible option.
“As a leading provider of OLED technologies, it convinces me that we have a lot more between us,” said Pat Gelsinger, chief executive of Intel. Gelsinger previously introduced the 13th-gen Core processor, codenamed Raptor Lake, though he later downplayed an impending 6GHz chip.
Betting on new technologies
The problem, unfortunately, is that the PC OEM market has shrunk. Michelle Johnston Holthaus, head of Intel’s Client Computing Group, acknowledged that there are five leading PC manufacturers, all in competition with Apple. And while the PC market has expanded during the pandemic, it has shrunk dramatically this year, as reported by Microsoft and analyst groups like IDC and Gartner. “And they don’t have as much money to invest now because their margins are a little bit lower,” Holthaus said during a small roundtable with the press and analysts this week.
A shrinking market typically means a more conservative investment strategy, given the risks of betting on the wrong technology. And Josh Newman, the interim head of Intel’s mobile processor business, acknowledged that a new technology like a sliding PC was really a gamble, especially since “all our research keeps saying that performance is the first thing people want when they buy a computer.” new PC,” he pointed out.
Intel, however, can afford to make such bets. The company maintains an “Intel Inside” marketing fund, as well as an innovation fund, partnering with companies like Samsung to bring innovative technologies to market, Holthaus said. Foldable PCs may not have taken off — yet — but other bets have paid off: After Intel launched the ultrabook in 2011, it worked with partners to improve thermal solutions and panels and touchscreens, Newman said.
“Five, six years later, you couldn’t find a $500 laptop that was more than 18 millimeters thick,” said Newman.
The challenges: making and selling
With a sliding—or folding—PC Intel faces two major challenges. First, there is the very technical problem of simply designing a PC with the new display technology. But secondly, there are compelling users to buy it.
A sliding PC might be the next big thing – or not. “If I look at it now with the collapsible one, it’s a gamble, and so will the slider, and it’s a gamble that we want to explore,” Newman said. “This user experience is going to be something you want to value and it will start as ultra premium, but it’s also based on research that says, give me as much screen area as possible.”
One of the axioms of the scientific community goes something like this: the lunar launches of the 1960s didn’t simply require learning how to get men to the moon, but all the corollary science that went with it: survival in space, nutrition, and so on. Solving the problems of a sliding PC means improving the conventional OLED screens that consumers go Purchase.
“They are really going to make their rigid OLED technology more affordable now, because the problems they are solving with power and time controllers and all those things that make it a lot harder on a big new foldable now make it cheaper to make a 14-inch OLED.” , said Newman. “And it’s going to hit the mainstream market.”
As proof, Samsung Display showed off a 17-inch 165Hz 1440p OLED screen at the innovation conference, combining the high contrast ratio of Samsung’s displays with the high refresh rate that gamers prefer.
Marketing a sliding PC, however, presents another problem: simply convincing users to buy it. Holthaus says he sees the PC as the platform of choice, offering options that Apple simply missed.
“I think we have to drive the OEMs to get there and we have to offer options to consumers,” Holthaus said. When a consumer drives to Best Buy, he can see several options and it can be very difficult to decide. But on Amazon, there are hundreds of options, making the choice even more confusing. It seems Intel’s plan is to try to find the best aspects of both.
“I think part of driving this innovation is getting it on the market plane, putting it in the hands of consumers and driving the wheel of consumer demand, but that will drive Intel and our partners to innovate and be willing to do that.” , said Holthaus.