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Intel CEO Sees PC As The Digital ‘Focal Point’

LAS VEGAS – In the coming years, the “extended” personal computer is going to be the “focal point” for a variety of digital products, said Intel president/CEO Craig Barrett.

Taking the stage at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater, here, during International CES, Barrett told a packed house that “the PC is at the center of the digital universe, and the universe is expanding.”

In this upcoming “extended PC era,” he said, the combination of Intel’s Pentium 4 processor-based PC and digital cameras, toys, camcorders, personal digital assistants and personal audio products will help consumers use their home PCs and the Internet in a variety of new and exciting ways.

Citing the value of the PC for the number of interface devices that can be attached, he pointed to a future home that includes a cellular phone-based PDA and a wireless Web tablet.

Barrett, who was billed as the 2001 International CES Pre-Event Kick-Off Keynote speaker, said about 400 million PCs are already connected to the Internet, and by 2003-04, that number will increase to 1 billion. He expects Intel to ramp up its Pentium 4 processor in 2001 and converge Pentium III to 4 in the next 12 months.

“As digital consumer devices evolve, they will migrate toward more of the PC’s capabilities and blend into the PC environment … enhancing and extending the home PC,” Barrett said. “In the Extended PC Era, the home PC will be tasked to do even more, and consumers will be at the center of their own Internet experiences.”

In an expanded question-and-answer session following the formal presentation, Barrett said the future for the PC is bright, despite what has been written in the press.

The industry “sells more PCs each year,” he stated. “They’re more valuable, more exciting. China is poised to become the second biggest PC market in the world, while the PC is being adapted everywhere.”

Furthermore, he said, countries realize they have to enter an Internet economy or stand still.