Fortune: Rough holiday season ahead for PCs

It's going to be a frightful holiday season for PC sales, no matter what.

That was the hidden message Intel (INTC) executives delivered in an earnings conference call with analysts Tuesday afternoon after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profits but disappointing sales. They also said Intel is better off than competitors because of its streamlined workforce, world-class manufacturing operation, popular new Atom chip and rebounding profit margins. But tucked into that happier talk was the harsh reality that it's getting ugly out there.

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