posted by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Mar 2009 17:23 UTC
IconTo further prove that analysts' projections are just informed guesses, two major analyst firms just presented a completely different outlook on the netbook market and where it is going. Even though both project major growth, one of them sees a very bright future for non-Intel netbooks, while the other sticks with Atom.

As we all know, Intel owns the netbook market right now with its Atom platform, but several contenders are ready to challenge Intel's dominance, such as ARM, AMD, and VIA. After spending a year behind a tree looking in on the playground as the new kid, too anxious to approach Intel, VIA is finally making its first steps onto the netbook playground with its latest toy, the Nano. AMD is kind of lost somewhere on the other end of town, but will eventually get there. Eventually.

ARM, on the other hand, has been sitting on a bench near the playground with its gang of licensees, ready to storm the playground, kick Intel to the curb, and shove it to the fancier part of the playground. ARM wants the rest of the playground, the part Intel finds too cheap to play on. And according to one analyst, ARM is going to succeed in doing just that.

Robert Castellano from The Information Network says that the combination of ARM and Linux can deliver fully capable netbooks at price points that Intel can only dream of for now, and before Intel catches up, ARM has already taken over the cheaper parts of the playground firmly enough. In fact, Castellano believes that ARM will power 55% of the netbooks by 2012.

Mario Morales, vice president of global semiconductor research at International Data Corp. (IDC), however, doesn't believe they'll get that far, and his reason for that is Linux. People want the familiarity of Windows, and as such, Atom has an advantage over ARM, he says. Morales believes that ARM will catch about 10-20% of the market.

Whatever way it goes, there's no way of telling that right now, if you ask me. The economic situation is highly unpredictable, and while the economy could recover in a few months, it could also collapse even further. There's no way of telling what effect this would have on the computer industry.

Still, AMD, VIA, and ARM are tough competitors for Intel, but at the same time, Intel won't sit idly by as they approach the playground.

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