A new report from ABI Research on ultra-mobile devices will warm Intel’s heart. The report estimates that the sale of all ultra-mobile devices including mobile Internet devices, ultra-portable PCs, netbooks and basically anything larger than a phone and smaller than laptop will move from $3.5 billion in 2008 to nearly $27 billion in 2013. The firm issued a report a few weeks ago saying 200 million of these devices will be sold in 2013 — something I doubt. But this report is encouraging for Intel, which is pushing its low-power, x86 Atom chip into that market. From the report:
In 2013 more than half of all UMDs will have x86 processors at their heart (largely Intel’s Atom), with the balance based on ARM processors. When it comes to operating systems, in 2013 Linux will outnumber Windows devices by two to one across all UMDs, despite the higher return rate for Linux products (compared to Windows products) experienced by netbook vendors today.
I’m not sure how Linux will overcome those higher return rates, but the idea that Intel chips will power more than half of these devices might give pause to companies such as Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and others seeking to use ARM-based processors to get a piece of this market. If Intel has more than half (even of a smaller market), the rest will have to be split between myriad other vendors. In this case, the real winners will be Intel, with ARM coming in a distant second.