Sunday, April 5, 2009

The trend in mobile computing

It is reported that ARM, which makes the CPU chips that power most of the smartphones and PDA's, has sold about 10 billion chips. In comparison, the much better known CPU giant Intel, has only sold 1-2 billion to date. The gap is expected to grow wider all the time. ARM chips run on low power consumption. They are designed for mobile computing. As they grow more powerful, they begin to take on applications that emulate what goes on the desktop. HP and Asus have said they will use the ARM chip on their new line of netbooks. It will be interesting to see Symbian apps running on the netbooks. Intel and Microsoft no longer has complete dominance over the computing world.

People do not need a powerful CPU. Smart phones and Linux-powered netbooks have shown that almost all the applications a typical user needs can be satisfied by a small application running on a small little CPU. The only reason why we are pushed into buying increasingly powerful computers is solely to run more and more bloatware. The mother of all bloatware comes from Microsoft (think Vista, Microsoft Office). Of course, companies like Adobe and Nero also seems to have taken the cue from Microsoft. They bloat up their software with each new release, yet the basic functions used by most people has remained unchanged for years. Of course, Intel obliges with more and more powerful CPU's, which dovetails nicely into their business plan, of course. Of course, I can't use an ARM-powered computer today to run Photoshop and videoediting. But believe me, I am still running these applications on my 6-year old 2GHz Pentium 4, with Windows XP platform. I see no reason to upgrade anything unless I have decided to become a professional graphics artist or a movie producer. And I need but just one computer to do that.

Google has recognized this trend by coming out with the Android platform for mobile computing. This is a direct challenge to Symbian, which is also an open standard. The new Android phones are expected to become widely accepted as more apps are made available. If Android captures the market and expands to netbooks, Microsoft will be consigned to a niche market. Be afraid, Microsoft; be very afraid.

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