As Paul Otellini (pictured below) began his latest investors call, discussing Intel's grim set of financial results for the quarter ending 30 March, he took a few moments to address the fact that it would also be his last.
He steps down in May, after eight years at the helm. It quickly became clear that whoever succeeds Otellini will be looking at a radically different Intel from the one inherited by Otellini.
With profits slumping – down nearly a quarter year-on-year – and its PC business following the wider market down the plughole, Otellini may have anticipated a rough ride in the conference call.
Instead nearly all questions were prefaced with well wishes. If anything, the air was more one of sadness than anger, with analysts respectfully marking the departure of someone that has ridden the PC gravy train for all it is worth.
But make no mistake: these are sour times for Intel. It has addressed the threat of smartphones and tablets with all the speed and agility of an arthritic sloth.
The PC market, once Intel's key to riches, is in a prolonged – some say terminal – slump. And while firms such as Apple and Samsung have feasted on user appetite for smartphones – overwhelmingly ones powered using chip designs from rival Arm – Intel is facing a tough battle to fight back.
As Intel's chief financial officer Stacy Smith told the analyst call, when it comes to profits, “smartphones [don't] move the needle for us at the moment".
Smith describes Intel as in the development stage in smartphones; it has seen its processors slipped inside just a couple of handsets. But Smith suggested the arrival of its Haswell processors see its market share climb rapidly.
However, others are unconvinced.
“They keep promising that wondrous products in [the smartphone and tablet] space are on the way. The much anticipated Haswell chips are due in time to power cheaper touchscreen laptops and tablets for the holiday season...allegedly. ” wrote analyst Richard Holway, of TechMarketView.
“Until they do, companies like Arm have a clear run."
Both Otellini and Smith were keen to talk up the firm's prospects in the second half of the year, once Haswell is out of the gate.
Haswell processors are intended to boost the performance of devices such as tablets and ultrabooks, but without annihilating their batteries.
Smith even predicted that the arrival of Haswell will be shortly followed by a pick up in demand for PCs, as firms come round to the touch-enabled machines powered by Windows 8. Yet even here, Intel is relying on luck – with Smith's predictions given the caveat that the improvement in demand is based on expectations that the global economy is also going to pick up.
As Otellini departs, the powerhouse of the PC era is betting on factors far outside its control for growth. And as for his replacement? Intel said at the outset of the analyst call it would not be taking questions on Otellini's successor.
However, it confirmed an announcement would be made at the forthcoming shareholders' meeting in May. Whoever does take the hot seat faces a very different Intel from the one Otellini inherited.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago