posted by Kroc Camen on Thu 6th May 2010 07:54 UTC
IconIn 2009 ARM showed off prototype netbooks "capable of driving HD content, can surf the web for 8 hours, and will cost round and about 250 USD". Yet still, none have made it to the market. Why do you think this is so? Because ARM signed a deal with Adobe in 2008 to bring Flash and AIR to the ARM architecture, a promise they will finally deliver later this year. And you wonder why Apple won't have Flash on the iPhone when it can hold back an entire product category for two years.

I’ve been waiting for ARM netbooks to appear for some time, I was eventually forced to buy an Atom-based netbook instead. The laptop / netbook martket has been stagnant for the last year, for a long time we have been wanting to see this market get a shake up in the form of new architectures getting the shelf space to shine. Both ARM and MIPS represent a possibility of thinner, fanless laptops that last all day on a charge.

ARM-based machines show great potential for Linux too, giving it a platform where the competition is not so deeply entrenched. Android is nice, but it’s not quite Ubuntu, and using WindowsCE is like being in the 90s again (although Nvidia seems to think otherwise).

That window of opportunity for ARM+Linux to live happily every after is quickly closing though. With the delay of these ARM based devices, Intel have had time to get their act together.

Asked if the smartbook delays had anything to do with performance relative to Intel's netbook-dominating Atom chipset, Drew said he had "not seen that one come up once" in discussion with manufacturers.

Drew's comments came as Intel detailed its Moorestown chipset, a version of Atom that is tailored for smartphones and tablets. Moorestown's arrival later this year — around the same time as smartbooks hit the market — will ensure competition between ARM and Intel in each company's stronghold: respectively, the smartphone and the subnotebook.

The iPad has also sent shockwaves through this unborn market:

In March, another ARM executive suggested that more than 50 ARM-based tablets would be released later this year. According to Drew, the sudden explosion of interest in the tablet form factor had "confused" some manufacturers that had been considering ARM-based smartbooks, which tend to resemble laptops, thus further delaying smartbooks' advent.

You may hate all the Apple / Flash / H264 discussion and think it doesn’t relate to you, but here technology is being kept out of your hands because of Flash—or more specifically, because of Adobe. I know there are a ton of OSnews readers who would love to get their hands on a cheap ARM based machine. There was immediate discussion of how we would love to see RISC OS, or even Haiku on such a machine.

Had these laptops been available, then they would have presented very strong competition with Atom-based machines and Linux may have finally seen some foothold in the retail sector. Linux based netbooks were there first, but with Microsoft practically giving away Windows XP and Windows 7 now taking the lead, Linux just represented a different UI on the same crappy hardware. What I wanted to see is the difference between an Intel/Windows laptop getting three hours battery life and an ARM/Linux laptop getting 10.

Son, I am disappoint.

The sooner Flash (and all proprietary runtimes, Silverlight included) are gone, the sooner new product categories and devices can spring up without having to wait on the blessing of Adobe and their glacial development pace. Device manufacturers should be able to go to market the moment they have the idea. Like it or not, this news is demonstration that Adobe are holding us all back, even those who like Flash.

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