Rays of light may finally be breaking through the storm clouds bearing down on the PC market.
Intel has registered its Q4 and full year 2013 earnings report, and the buzzword around the beleaguered sector was "stabilization."
CEO Bryan Krzanich stated in its earnings release that the company witnessed "signs of stabilization in the PC segment."
CFO Stacy Smith noted in his commentary (PDF) that though the personal computer market was down for 2013, "We saw the market stabilize in the back half of the year with fourth quarter PC units up from a year ago."
It's not a whopping number, but Intel's PC chip segment actually saw a 2% revenue growth quarter-over-quarter. What's more, its desktop chip business was up 7%. Year-on-year notebook numbers were flat, though the average selling price was down 7%.
Despite competition from an influx of mobile chip makers, Intel remains the world's largest silicon manufacturer. Signs that PC sales are stabilizing here bring good tidings for the rest of the industry.
If they last.
In a sign of the times, tablets picked up a good portion of PC slack for 2013.
Smith wrote the company "saw strong tablet growth in the back half of the year." Together, PCs and tablets contributed to a unit grow for the quarter that "was up almost 10% from a year ago."
The numbers are positive, but there's still growth to be had in tablets and other mobile devices. The "other Intel architecture operating segments," which blankets Atom chips for notebooks, tablets and smartphones, saw revenue up 4% from the Q3 but down 7% year-over year. Intel attributed the decline to poor netbook sales.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the segment also contributed a hefty $125 million (about £76.4m, AU$141.8m) operating loss to the company's bottom line.
Though slates are by no means a silver bullet for yet, Intel anticipates 40 million tablets will ship with its silicon this year.
About that CES future tech
The company is also expanding its focus beyond the PC, and tablet, into the "other" category.
Krzanich cited Intel's presence at CES 2014 were the company "demonstrated multiple devices that weren't on our roadmap six months ago."
He was referring to such products as Edison, Intel's equivalent of Raspberry Pi, and a number of concept wearables. On a call with investors, as reported by The Verge, Krzanich reiterated Intel's plan to have these products available this year. However, he didn't specify whether the actual devices shown in Vegas or simply the chips that make them tick will make it market.
CFO Smith said on the call that Intel will organize its future investments around the data center, tablets and low-power chip sectors.