ARM Expects Netbooks to Account for 90% of PCs

Netbooks – Opportunity for ARM Despite Lack of Windows Support

by Anton Shilov
02/03/2010 | 01:02 PM

Even though at present netbook computers account for a relatively small percentage of all personal computers, in future their market share can increase drastically once performance reaches “good enough” level. At least, chief executive officer of ARM thinks so. Besides, Warren East is sure that eventually ARM-based chips will power the majority of netbooks despite lack of support by desktop Windows operating system.

 

“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. We see those products as an area for a lot of innovation and we want that innovation to be happening around the ARM architecture,” said Warren East, chief executive of ARM, in an interview with PCPro web-site.

In fact, various processors powered by ARM architecture already power certain blocks of personal computers, such as hard disk drives, radio modules or web-cameras. However, the head of ARM believes that ARM microprocessors can also serve as central processing units inside netbooks. Unfortunately, ARM chips are not supported by desktop Microsoft Windows operating system, which is the most popular software platform on the planet. But the CEO of ARM claims that this will only slowdown the adoption of the chips, but will not become an insuperable roadblock.

“What’s holding it back is people’s love of the Microsoft operating system and that fact that it’s familiar and so on. But actually the trajectory of progress in the Linux world is very, very impressive. I think it’s only a matter of time for ARM to gain market share with or without Microsoft. […] It is really an operational decision for Microsoft to make. I don’t think there are any major technical barriers. Microsoft’s well aware of the technical support we can provide to them, but it is an operational challenge for them, and one that only they can work out,” added Mr. East.

Although ARM microprocessors power the vast majority of mobile phones, personal digital media players and various consumer electronics products, the entrance of ARM-based chips onto the market of PCs have so far been slow. For example, smartbooks, which were announced back in late 2008, still have not make it to the market.