There’s good news and bad news for computer chipmakers. Research firm IDC reports that overall microprocessor shipments were down 11.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008 when compared with the same period in 2007. In case you couldn’t guess, that’s the bad news. The good news is that Intel Atom processors are shipping like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, the decline would have been much steeper (21.6%) if the Atom hadn’t been around.
So where does that put us in the whole are netbooks helping or hurting the industry debate? On the one hand, low power, low cost CPUs like the Intel Atom carry lower profit margins than higher end chips. On the other hand, if Intel and computer makers weren’t selling cheap mini-laptops/parts, it’s not clear they’d be selling more expensive items to fill that void.