Intel to Dominate Ultra-Mobile Computers

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Asus Eee PC

Asus Eee PC

A new report from ABI Research on ultra-mobile devices will warm Intel’s (s INTC) 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.

9 Comments

Stacey Higginbotham

Doug, you are right. I know the OEMs would love to have ARM and Intel playing off each other for years to come.

Doug

I’ll echo what Tony said. The true mobile market is currently owned by ARM and will probably continue to be owned by ARM based products. The power consumption delta between Atom and ARM is huge. Yes, Intel is working that issue, but the ARM camp is not standing still either. The ATOM is a single shop provider, and CE manufacturers do not like to be cornered by a single vendor. The ARM camp is vibrant largely because there are multiple vendors to choose from, which helps hold the line on costs and also helps to drive device integration and innovation.

Intel once had their own ARM line, and it was a very good device lineup, but they sold that unit to Marvell. Some argue that it was driven by internal politics, others said that Intel chafed at the price competition in the open market. In any case, the market may not move to Intel’s beat, particularly in the hand held / mobile market.

Doug

Ray George

So the bad news for Arm is 50% of a $27bn market in 2013.

And that’s apart from the markets they dominate now.

If I was Warren East in 2008 , I would accept the offer

of such a draw five years hence.

Stacey Higginbotham

Anon, Tegra is awesome, although the current batch of problems with Nvidia’s graphics chips (and Nvidia’s reponse) may cause some OEMs to rethink their reliance on Nvidia.

Tony

Yeah, that “200 million” does sound a little high. Projecting 50% marketshare for Intel sounds reasonable — if you’re including ultraportable PC’s (but they’ll have to come down price to contribute much) and netbooks (basically, cheap ultraportable PC’s).

But IMHO netbooks and ultraportables are really PC’s and not really mobile internet devices (for a MID, I want features like instant on/off, not my current ultraportable’s clunky save/resume) — outside of portable PC’s, I expect Intel to get stomped.

Anon

What are the reasonings behind the large market share attributed to atom? Are we talking better technology or better infrastructure in terms of sales, marketing….etc?

While not proven yet, nVidia’s Tegra seems promising from a power and video capability perspective that seems to trump the Atom on many levels.

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