Could ARM-based netbooks one day dominate the industry? In an interview with PC Pro, ARM CEO Warren East predicted that netbooks could eventually make up 90% of the PC market, and he expressed a desire to see his company's ARM application processors power a significant portion of those systems.
East sees the netbook takeover happening "over the next several years." As he points out, today's netbooks may have Intel microprocessors, but they already include ARM logic, too: "chances are it's an ARM in the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. More often than not there's an ARM in the hard disk drive and sometimes there's an ARM in the integrated camera as well." The next step, in his view, is for ARM-based CPUs to replace the Intel chips.
We've certainly seen a few ARM-based netbooks (or smartbooks) recently, but because ARM processor cores aren't x86-compatible, Windows 7 doesn't run on them. That means smartbook makers have to opt for the less-capable Windows CE, a Linux distribution like Ubuntu, or Google's Android or Chrome OS operating systems.
Speaking on that topic, East stated, "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." He added that there's little point in ARM pleading Microsoft to make Windows run on its processors—"Microsoft knows us very well, it's worked with us for the past 12 years, all its mobile products are based on ARM." East acknowledges that getting the extra support from Microsoft wouldn't hurt, though.