Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A farewell to ARM? Not likely. The PC-Mobile clash has gotten white hot. All chips are in.

For more than a decade, Intel has been trying to get into the mobile market. But now it looks like the mobile market is about to get into Intel. And for Microsoft, there appears to be an inverse correlation to spend and success in mobile.

The clash between the mobile and PC milieus reached a peak this week with public displays of affection between Google and Intel. And between Microsoft and ARM. To me, these deals highlight the long-term failures of both Intel and Microsoft to break into the handset market in any significant way. Sure, an Intel chip made its way into the first Nokia Communicator back in 1996. But not a heck of a lot has happened since. And Microsoft's share of the smartphone market has reached a record low --under 3%-- last quarter. This despite having two mobile platforms on the market and some heavy ad spending.

The announcement from Google & Intel that Intel-powered Android smartphones will be coming out next year is certainly an interesting development for the market. And this means an additional boost for Android at a time when the platform has already taken 50% of the market. Intel's jumping on a bandwagon, and we should see more converged devices running Android including tablet- and laptop-like form factors.

Looking at the other side of the coin, the counter press release from Microsoft & ARM with additional cheerleading by processor vendors such as NVIDIA have ARM-based Windows PCs coming out in the near future. Porting Windows to run on ARM could be the shot across iPad's bow. Microsoft's use of the tile-based Metro UI in Windows 8 indicates that mobility and touch are leading the way. Windows 8 looks a lot like Windows Phone 7. Metro is the new WIMP. Introducing such an entirely new interface in Windows is a risky bet by Microsoft, but the software vendor knows it needs to do something to pull itself forward.

In reality the above announcements are not new. But at this point they stress the changes in the market: the partnerships, the form factors, the paranoia.

The collision course between PCs and mobile devices is all set. Let's see if something tasty comes out of all this:

Hey! You got mobile in my PC...
Two great tastes that taste great together?


Dipankar said...

In today's Times of India newspaper in Bangalore this article covering ARM and Intel's processor battles was printed. The article ended stating that we are in for a "David vs Goliath" fight. I wonder who is David and who is Goliath between Intel & ARM!

Peter Bryer: Mobile Foresighter said...

Thanks Dipankar for the info. I'm sure on the surface Intel looks like the Goliath. But of course they are the David in mobility. Not many people know much about ARM outside of the industry.

I suppose in reality the battle is more like Goliath vs Goliath.