|ARM Chief Touts Windows 8 Tablets, Questions Android's Appeal|
ARTICLE DATE : February 1, 2012
By Damon Poeter
In the process of reporting strong earnings for the fourth quarter on Tuesday, ARM CEO Warren East had some interesting things to say about Microsoft's coming Windows 8 release—namely, that it could propel more tablet sales than Google's Android mobile operating system has accomplished so far.
"Consumers are familiar with Microsoft and very familiar with Windows and they're less familiar with an Android environment," East said during an exchange with an analyst noticed by CNET. "Microsoft has an awareness advantage with consumers that the Android folks didn't have.
"It's up to Microsoft [and we'll see] how well they're going to exploit that advantage. But I think that's a fundamental difference."
East's comments add to the anticipation for Windows 8, expected to be released by Microsoft this fall and "accompanied by a tidal wave of tablets, hybrids, and convertibles," as PCMag.com lead laptop analyst Eric Grevstad put it recently.
Indeed, there's a lot for tablet fans to like about Windows 8, starting with Microsoft's recommended specs for a Windows 8 tablet. Grevstad breaks those down as "a 1,366-by-768-pixel screen with a minimum of five touch inputs; at least one USB 2.0 port; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; a three-axis accelerometer; power, rotation lock, and volume buttons; 10GB or more of free storage space when taken out of the box; and a Windows key button measuring at least 10.5mm in diameter in the center of the bottom bezel."
And it's no secret that Microsoft has been courting tablet and smartphone makers who in the last several product cycles have overwhelmingly selected ARM-based chips to run their devices over the x86-based parts made by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.
In fact, Windows 8's release is likely to mark a pivotal moment in personal computing history as the long-running "Wintel" partnership of Microsoft and Intel takes a decidedly new turn. Not only is Microsoft tuning its next-generation operating system for non-x86 processor architectures, but Intel is concurrently optimizing its own Atom chips for Android, as it takes another shot at penetrating the mobile device market.
East did have some nice things to say about Android, of course. ARM's stellar growth, including a 45 percent increase in net income in its fourth quarter, owes a lot to the popularity of Android smartphones (Apple also uses ARM-based chips designed in-house in the iPhone and iPad).
If history is any lesson, he said, Android tablets just need "a little more time" to mature.
"Actually when Android phones were introduced, there was a lot of hype," East was quoted as saying by CNET. "And then, actually, they didn't take off in the sort of way that reflected that hype. Then a few years later—two years later—half a million units a day, 700,000 units a day. [Android phones now are] really ... a very successful product."