X86 vs ARM for netbooks: does it really matter?

Being Internet and multi-media centric, netbooks have created a new usage model which is not focused on the conventional local-apps computing model which x86 has dominated for so long. This warrants an honest and fresh look to see if there really are still many legacy factors tethering the netbook market to x86, or if ARM is set to be a true competitor.

Intel has marketed that the Internet is built on x86, and that ARM does not deliver the same quality of experience for web browsing and consuming web content. That certainly held some truth at one point. But ARM has subsequently refuted Intel's claims. So let's a have collective and forward looking review of just how tied netbooks will be to any particular architecture. This blog is all about participation; please offer any new thoughts.

Let's 1st define netbooks as smaller notebook-like devices which are used for consuming Internet and media content, and doing lightweight Internet tasks. Which is to say, let's not focus on elements of netbooks where people use them as small notebooks, and thus desire much of the related Windows compatibility. Additionally, let's have a forward look at what will likely become available within the 2009 timeframe so we're not looking in the rear-view mirror. Here are some areas to explore -- please send input on which things you don't believe will become available for ARM in that context. I'll create an ongoing matrix.

  • local applications
  • browser plugins/add-ons/extensions
  • media players/codecs/etc
  • performance
  • UI
  • hardware
  • features
  • communications
  • other?
Worth noting, recently there was an announcement of ARM working with Adobe to port Flash 10 and AIR to ARM11 for 2009, and an announcement of Canonical working with ARM on an Ubuntu ARM port.

Disclosure: no positions