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ARM Exec Says 90% of PC Market Could Be Netbooks 307

Barence writes "ARM chief executive Warren East has claimed that netbooks could dominate the PC market, in an exclusive interview with PC Pro. 'Although netbooks are small today – maybe 10% of the PC market at most – we believe over the next several years that could completely change around and that could be 90% of the PC market,' he said. East also said ARM isn't pressuring Microsoft to include support for its processors in Windows, claiming progress in the Linux world is 'very, very impressive.' 'There's not really a huge amount of point in us knocking on Microsoft's door,' he said. 'It's really an operational decision for Microsoft to make. I don't think there's any major technical barriers.'"
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ARM Exec Says 90% of PC Market Could Be Netbooks

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  • by tjwhaynes ( 114792 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:48AM (#31009642)

    I wonder how long I will go on musing for, before I break down and buy one...

    For myself, I'd give it another 6-12 months to see what shakes out of the market. The Cortex-A9 quad core looks like it is the perfect chip for high performance, low power consumption tasks, and the Tegra 2 SoC looks like it will provide a moderate-performance GPU on top of that. There are a number of different form factors that look like they will hit the shelves over the next year, from single screen netbooks, dual-screen touchscreen folding books, a mix of tablets and tablets with removable keyboards. Hey - even Google is supposedly building a tablet based on this sort of tech.

    The iPad is likely to find its niche suddenly becomes a crowded space by the end of 2010.

    Toby Haynes

  • by MonsterTrimble ( 1205334 ) <monstertrimble AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @10:48AM (#31009654)
    I agree 90% is pie in the sky, but I think netbooks will become even more huge as time progresses. Computers have become a commodity item, and with so many people on the move they want their stuff with them. City wide wifi, huge storage capabilities, the cloud, Chromium, iPad (although I think it won't really be crazy good) and smart phones are all pointing to one thing. The end of the desktop is nigh, and once you leave the desktop the game gets *REALLY* wide open.
  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:04AM (#31009898)
    It's a question of if people want it.

    Just look around you, my Subaru is more than what most people need but it's one of the smaller cars on the road on average. Most people should be able to get away with eating 2200 calories or less a day but look at our fat asses and tell me that it's happening. Most people should be able to get by on a handful of TV channels and a modest collection of DVDs but we have hundreds of channels, On Demand, more DVDs in our homes than books... etc etc etc.

    Modern culture likes comfort, modern culture likes the big is better lifestyle. Most people aren't going to adapt well to the next step up from the Speak and Spell. Even those who do begrudgingly adopt to it aren't really going to want it and, if they can afford a little better, will reject it with whatever bullshit logic they need to use to justify something a little more luxurious.

    People have this obsession with hording and with being able to show that their possessions are bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else on the block. Computers are part of this culture of possession and no amount of benchmarks and proof of concept are going to change that.
  • by Mashdar ( 876825 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:04AM (#31009900)
    I took a step back the other day to consider the progress of Linux as a user-friendly OS. Comparing a 2002 copy of Mandrake to modern Ubuntu (argued the most user friendly mainstream distros/flavors of their day), the rapid improvement is marked. Looking at Windows 7 compared to Windows XP, the progress has not been anywhere near as impressive. Granted part of the difference is that Linux is still maturing as a non-tech-person OS, but I doubt that Microsoft will be able to keep up. I don't know about 3 years, but 20 years I might give you.
  • Tegra Performance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thaig ( 415462 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:05AM (#31009918) Homepage

    Try this on your atom: []

    I think it just makes nonsense out of your performance argument.

  • Netbook? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:08AM (#31009950) Homepage Journal
    Most could have a portable internet device in the next few years. But its shape could end not being the netbook one. Cellphones, and tablets also want a share in that space, and probably will be a mix of all. Cellphones are getting into shape to be good enough internet devices, and if you want larger screens,tablets with keyboards, hybrids (like Asus T91 [], cheaper, more powerful and with far more battery life), should be the most popular kind.

    This will require fast, cheap and energy efficient cpus, and if well could not be netbooks, ARM and other non-intel (i.e. TI's OMAP4 []) cpus should have a good portion of the market in that scenario,and probably a lot will be somewhat linux based (android, moblin, maemo,etc)

  • Re:Computing Power? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:08AM (#31009954)

    three words : ndvida cloud based rendering

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:11AM (#31010002) Homepage Journal

    True but WinCE sucks as WinMo is in deep trouble.
    Windows Mobile is really at the "also" ran level in the Cell Phone market.
    Do you see any ads for WinMo phones? Not really. IPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Palm are all way ahead of Microsoft in mind share.
    If Microsoft is going to be anything else but a footnote in the Phone market WinMo7 better be out tomorrow and be mind blowing.
    Frankly I think Microsoft is loosing it's halo. Xbox360 has had a huge struggle with hardware failures. WinMo is old and clunky, Vista left a really bad taste in peoples mouth, Office is facing competition from Google Docs and OpenOffice, and Play For Sure failed publicly.
    Microsoft does have a hit with Windows7 and Sync is very good but the list of fails and disasters from Microsoft is actually pretty dang large now.

    I would say that Microsoft in every market except the desktop is now in a put up or shut up situation. The problem is that I don't think Microsoft knows it. I wonder if they feel that Android and iPhone are just passing fads.

  • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:20AM (#31010110)

    MS software for such things is mostly a waste of money. You'd have to be using fairly advanced features of Office software to notice any differences between open office and MS office.

    Using open source applications in their current form is really not that hard, especially for people coming from a Windows world. If an employee can't handle that, then they probably aren't clever enough to handle most office work.

    I also don't buy that admins are more expensive for Linux than Windows, though I'd consider evidence to the contrary. I agree that the cost of employees eclipses all other business expenses. I just can't see that Windows ability is really any cheaper than Linux ability.

    For all that, however, MS license costs are nowhere near as ridiculous as stuff like SAP, AIX, DB2, Weblogic, Websphere, and Oracle.

  • by dmacleod808 ( 729707 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:23AM (#31010124)
    I run OSX on my MSI U100... it works great... and i can play video and light gaming...
  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:25AM (#31010154) Homepage Journal

    90% of PC users don't write code, compile, edit or recompress HD or any other video, render 3D anything, nor compose pages for publishing.

    90% of PC users surf the Web, read and compose mail as text, watch video and tolerate sub-HD quality, and occasionally flip through their digital photographs. Rarely they use some Web service to make albums, remove red-eye, order Christmas cards and replacement checks every two years, and play Flash games. Web services rule. Banking, social interaction, news, pr0n, it's all in the Web. Microsoft has already lost this battle. Bing is their last gasp to be relevant in Webspace. Microsoft buying Yahoo! would just kill two birds with one stone.

    Flash is the most demanding application most users bother to use, and many don't even realize it. Their browser is second, and they complain about how slow their machine is when their IE instance grows to >300MB and they can't get from one corner of their plot to another instantly in Farmville. They think it's their computer being slow when Facebook takes a moment to show them something cool.

    Put Flash on their netbook, and any OS out there is adequate. YouTube has its own deal. If you can put Netflix on it, you're home free. Microsoft Works would be overkill. GMail is all the editor they need.

    Microsoft has to fight netbooks, and especially ARM-based netbooks, since they lose any hope of selling Office 2007+ to these users. Unless they make Windows 7 Mobile on ARM a subscription model, and you need a credit card to activate. The billing starts in a year and continues until your bank fails or you upgrade, and maybe even past that.

    Ubuntu or any Linux on ARM looks better and better. I suspect ASUS and others could do some nice work with Linux distros for a fraction of the cost of licensing Windows, deliver their customers some serious value, and be free of Microsoft. That last benefit may be the most powerful of all.

    But the Empire will strike back. Even Adobe has a huge stake in this. If HTML5 succeeds in replacing Flash, it will be Acrobat that saves Adobe. Oh, wait...

    And if they succeed, and Microsoft loses netbook share, expect Linux to suffer security exploits as never before. We haven't seen corporate espionage yet. The Microsoft v. Novell/Lotus/WordPerfect battles were nothing compared to this war. If^H^Hwhen it starts, the carnage will be worldwide, and both sides will suffer. I'm not sure any of the Chinese^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hbot farmers have really exerted all their ability to own Windows. We ain't see nothing yet.

    Me? I bailed on the netbokk thing and bought a 12" Thinkpad. I just needed the screen space. A Pentium M anything is fast enough for my portable machine. Those were too good.

  • Re:Absolutely not. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:35AM (#31010302) Journal
    "What East is really saying is, "Behold. I shall inflate stock values by making false and pointless claims." ... He is trying to make the claim that no one needs computing power... If you want to watch a DVD, good luck--your netbook is probably a little too small for that DVD drive!"

    Who watches DVDs anymore? I stream everything, my DVD collection was put on the network years ago, and while the latest ARM might not be a quad cpu today where do you think it'll be in 5 years? He did say "...we believe over the next several years that could completely change..."

    Really 90% of the market will become a cheap internet device with a mainstream browser (IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc), full Flash support with full speed 1080p streaming. Whatever device offers "best bang for the buck" will take over. Right now it looks like netbooks fit the bill, but if somehow the price of screen only tablets similar to the iPad dropped to half that of netbooks then tablets would make up 90% of the market. Problem is it seems it's still cheaper to throw in a LCD, keyboard and touchpad than a single touchscreen, but that could change in the next few years.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:45AM (#31010418) Homepage Journal

    Actually I did some work with Linux on an XScale CPU a while back. It actually ran X pretty well and didn't need to be all that stripped down to work. I wouldn't run Gnome on it or KDE but the code I wrote using GTK performed well. On the new A8 and A9 cores I think Linux will preform very close to what you see on the desktop.
    I wouldn't run on it but as a whole I think the Linux stack will do just fine.
    The truth is that a lot of Linux software will just take a recompile to run just fine on an ARM. I think that Linux will have a real advantage in software applications over WinCE on a Netbook.
    WinMo right now is just about where the old PalmOS was two years ago. In deep trouble.
    I wouldn't say that Microsoft is unmatched in automobile navigation. QNX and others have a big users base. Linux has really lagged there because no big company has pushed it. It is a shame and I hope that maybe TomTom will start pushing it and start making deals with the car makers.

  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) <> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:47AM (#31010450) Homepage Journal

    Netbooks are supposed to be those things too small to work like a real computer but too big to be really portable! How could Steve Jobs be wrong? Is it true that they are small enough to be more portable than a laptop but big enough to be more useful than a cellphone/PDA?

    I wonder how long I will go on musing for, before I break down and buy one...

    I bought one a year ago - a Dell Mini 9 with a 1.6GHz dual core Atom processor, 2Gb RAM, and a solid state device in place of disk. My desktop machine which I use for development is a dual processor Athlon 1.6GHz with 2.5Gb or RAM and a SCSI raid array. Both run Ubuntu 9.10. Which is faster? Well, for jobs like compiling, the netbook tends to be, because the SSD is a lot faster than physical disk. For everything else except 3d graphics, they're about equal. The ATI graphics card on the desktop does 3d better and faster than the Intel on board graphics chip on the netbook.

    But the only places the desktop really has it over the netbook are graphics and disk capacity. The netbook has it over the desktop in terms of noise, size, weight, power consumption, portability.

    Now, OK, mine's an Atom, not an ARM. But there really isn't that big a difference in performance between a dual core 1.6Ghz Atom and a dual core 1.2GHz ARM, and a four core 1.2GHz ARM will scare the pants off it. These days, a netbook really can give you all the compute power you need, and five plus hours battery life.

  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:58AM (#31010638) Journal
    "Xbox360 has had a huge struggle with hardware failures. WinMo is old and clunky, Vista left a really bad taste in peoples mouth, Office is facing competition from Google Docs and OpenOffice, and Play For Sure failed publicly."

    Not exactly. Xbox 360 is far ahead in the media center game [], which is what people want, the days of a $300 gaming only system are over. Only thing PS3 still has going for it is the built-in blu-ray drive, but to do something as simple as stream Netflix requires a Netflix disc [] that the Xbox 360 does not. Microsoft designed the Xbox 360 to be a media center, while the PS3 seems to be focused on being a blu-ray player, probably so Sony can protect and encourage movie sales [].

    We're still waiting for our all-in-one solution, the company that will provide us with all our devices. Apple has surprisingly made some great strides in the last ten years with the iPhone, Apple TV [] and being a major media content provider with iTunes. They appear to be the front runner in this game, all they need now is to add gaming to the Apple TV and they'd be hard to beat. Only thing they keep missing on is Flash support: iPhone/Touch only does Youtube streaming, no other sites. If they removed that limitation it'd be a far more attractive form factor.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:00PM (#31010676)

    I agree on all counts (except the navigation one, but I digress). There is a distinct advantage to using Linux to build Linux-like devices for all the reasons you mentioned. If building an Ubuntu system is your goal (like it is with Sharp's Netwalker), then having those tools and environment working for free in a cross platform way is unbeatable.

    I'm looking forward to seeing the performance on the A9 CPUs. WinCE is in a bad way right now without any multi-core support. It's coming soon, and has been for a year or so. In fact, this is Microsoft's Achilles heel in the navigation space.

    There are multiple tiers of navigation devices ranging from low-end PNDs to mid to high-end navigation systems from makers like Clarion, Pioneer, and Kenwood all the way to full-fledged Navigation Systems like Ford's Sync. On the low end you'll not find much CE, but in the high end you'll find that CE (Windows Auto/Microsoft Auto) dominates. There isn't any particular reason why this market couldn't swing towards Linux (or QNX, but c'mon) except for inertia, but the market is what it is.

    Microsoft is going to have to pull a rabbit out of its hat with WinMo 7 if the platform is to survive. But CE isn't going anywhere, and as long as ARM performance is subpar compared to the equivalent x86 CPU, we won't be seeing Windows Desktop (XP, Vista, Win7) coming to ARM.

  • by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:21PM (#31011046)

    Sure, Microsoft could release ARM versions of Word, etc, but if all you can run on your netbook is IE, Word and Powerpoint, why not run Linux instead?

    My company doesn't even need IE, Word or Powerpoint. All they need is a good terminal client and(unfortunately) a spreadsheet bug-compatible with Excel.

    If it weren't for that second requirement, we'd have gone linux whole hog already. If Microsoft ported Office to ARM, I'd toss every non-server X86 box that didn't belong to accounting out in a second.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:58PM (#31011622)

    Google for "OpenRD." $150 for a Marvell Cortex-A8 SoC with USB, GigE, SATA, PCIE, etc all brought out to connectors. The Kirkwood chip is the same one used in the Sheevaplug, but with OpenRD you get access to all the ports.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:09PM (#31011782)
    FYI, the platform is currently restricted to a maximum of a 10.1" display as per Microsoft and vendors tied in any way to Microsoft must abide by that. Did you not read about the ASUS executive apologizing for showing a non Windows netbook last year with Microsoft on stage?

    If Microsoft can't continue to threaten the manufacturers of these devices and they finally start hitting the market, you will start seeing 12", 15" and larger devices running multi-core ARM processors. That is a big _if_ because Microsoft will do everything they can to stop this. As someone mentioned, even if Microsoft ported Windows XP or 7 to ARM, they will not have the application base GNU/Linux already has and the more productive attack for them is limiting the market. They did that with the original netbook market by signing them up with amazing marketing kickback deals which cost Microsoft millions but kicked GNU/Linux off most products if not off the retail shelves. They don't have a technology answer and their first answer has always been blocking so that will continue.

    If you've seen GNU/Linux running on a 256MB Cortex-a8 system you would be thinking, 'wow, there's potential here'. If you see GNU/Linux running on an a9 system, you'd be saying 'OMG that is amazing - I want one'. Microsoft will be fighting this one with all guns firing. I saw a video recently of an a9 platform doing 1080p video and they said it was only using 5 watts. That's less than 500mA at 12V and for battery based products, that's a big deal.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:42PM (#31012346) Journal

    Few have released x64, simply because x86 code happily runs on x64, so why bother?

    However, from VC++2003 on, the compiler will nag you about any code that, even though it works on x86, is inherently unportable (such as casting a pointer to int) - even when compiling strictly on x86. In all places where I've worked so far, which all had a large amount of C++ code, those warnings were taken seriously - even though the products still ship as 32-bit.

    Aside from that, I rarely see platform-specific hacks in code these days simply because mainstream C++ became more high-level. Typical hacks of old were: 1) casting between pointers and ints; 2) using unions and relying on specific size of members; 3) using unaligned pointers. All those things were usually done for the sake of optimization (either speed, or memory usage). And very few bother with that today - and those who can reasonably do so usually know better, anyway.

    So, no, I'd say that most Windows software could in fact be readily ported to ARM.

  • by kitserve ( 1607129 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:58PM (#31012560) Homepage
    Most non-geeks don't tend to hoard old computers though. The thing that we technical types tend to forget is that a lot of people don't really think about the speed of their computer, they just use it and accept the fact that it's grindingly slow due to being a few years old, laden down with crapware and viruses as "the way computers are". I know a number of non-technical people who have bought a new computer because they were finding their existing one too slow after they've had it a few years. There's nothing actually wrong with the old computer hardware, once it's been formatted and reinstalled everything's fine again, but most people are going to be more tempted by the idea of buying a cute new netbook for a couple of hundred (fun shopping therapy) than they are by the idea of wiping their boring old current computer system and starting over (confusing techy work).
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:11PM (#31012718)


    At 3:30 on that video. . , I think I just saw the future.

    The laptop and the netbook I picked up last Summer, and even the PC's I've been running over the past few years are all about to fall into the same category as my Dad's old stereo system. -Where the shape and weight of a given device will no longer be determined by space requirements of the technology packed inside. Every square inch inside my Dad's old amplifier was strategically taken up with vacuum tube electronics whereas the modern gear I could buy as a teenager was mostly empty space inside sleek plastic boxes with big shiny knobs. Empty calories.

    Which probably means that it won't be long before netbooks and laptops are craptastic princess-pink or G.I. Joe themed items complete with dirty finger prints available at garage sales or brand new clattering around in the calculator section at the local Office Depot. The laptop you are using right now, while it is (most likely) a humming, energy hungry heat monster, will nonetheless ooze solid-state build quality and a healthy heft when compared to the next generation of light-as-air junk tech.

    And when I think about it. . .

    A lot of super-popular electronic media technology has come and gone over the last thirty years. Tape decks? Gone. Portable CD players? Gone. VCR's? Gone. The humble telephone? Changed beyond recognition. Here's a quiz: What's the one piece of technology which has stayed the same throughout that whole period?

    That's right! Headphones and the 1/8" audio jack. Apparently we've arrived at perfection with audio gear. Everything else has changed.

    I wonder what the final expression of the video display will end up being. . .


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