Intel Corp needs to find new ways of stimulating growth in the PC market, executives admitted at the Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs yesterday. Intel executive VP Paul Otellini said that the proportion of new PC buyers measured against the total number of PC sales had remained steady at around 20%, with the rest coming from the repeat business of smart buyers. Even the shift towards cheaper, low-end PCs hadn’t changed the figures, he said. Otellini said that more first-time buyers needed to be attracted to the PC in order to expand the market. Intel talked up two initiatives it hopes will spark off such growth among new users: new designs and easier-to-use technology. Pat Gelsinger, VP and general manager of Intel’s Desktop Products Group, highlighted a series of experimental desktop device designs at the event, including Intel’s own legacy free Concept PCs, first shown last September. Intel worked on the design of the Concept PC with industrial design company Ziba Designs, including a 500MHz Pentium III processor, DVD drive, 4 USB ports, 1394 ports, graphics accelerator and a 5GHz hard disk. They aren’t meant for production, Intel said. NEC Corp’s Millennium PC is already in production for the Japanese market, and has a microdesktop footprint of 10.5 by 7.7 by 2 inches, with 15-inch flat panel detachable screen. It should be out elsewhere by the second half of the year. Other systems on show, most using flat panel monitors, are still at the prototype stage. They included the MultiQ FP6-1600 from Sweden, Accelerated Performance Inc’s SwivelTop, a slimline PC from industrial designer Hauser Inc, the Silicon Bonsai Home Information Center from Seattle, Washington-based Stratos Inc, InSync Design’s Flex processor module and docking station, and designs from Palo Alto Products International Inc and the Velocity Group. Philips NV was also showing a 42 plasma monitor including integrated motherboard. Gelsinger later admitted that the appearance of Apple Computer Inc’s iMac had acted as a kick up the backside that finally got the PC industry thinking about possibilities beyond the standard beige box. Gelsinger said that ease-of-use was another critical factor in stimulating growth, and warned developers not to miss what he promised would be a major EOU Wave from Intel and Microsoft Corp later this year. The key, he said was the instantly available PC and the main component to make this work was Intel and Microsoft’s OnNow technology. OnNow aims to reduce the time from out-of-the-box to power on down to five minutes, from the current 20 minutes. Once set up, power on to application should be reduced to 10 seconds, and power on to viewing home page 30 seconds. Safe shut down will take 10 seconds, he said. Gelsinger urged developers and IHVs to test that their applications and hardware were OnNow aware before announcements expected in the second half of the year. Even with current levels of PC growth, Intel still expects PCs to begin outselling televisions worldwide some time next year.