BURLINGAME, Calif. On the same day Dell Inc. announced an ARM/Linux tablet, a panel of mobile experts—including a designer of the Dell device—suggested alternative platforms for tablets and netbooks are on a road of slow but steady growth.
Dell announced on Tuesday (May 25) its Streak, a five-inch tablet based on Google Android and Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor. An AT&T executive said the carrier will announce as many as ten Android systems for its network this year, but managers from Toshiba and Samsung were guarded in their support for ARM/Linux mobile systems.
Dell chose Qualcomm's Snapdragon, in part, because Qualcomm closely integrated it with its RF chips and Android. The tablet includes both front- and rear-facing cameras to enable video conferencing.
"There wasn't good support for that in the software or hardware at the time we made the decision, but now we are starting to see software to deliver on it and I think that will be a big use case over time," said Brian Pitstick, general manager of Dell's ultra-mobile devices group that originally designed the Streak.
The 10mm-thick device uses a special coating from Corning called Gorilla glass to protect its LCD. One innovation Pitstick said he'd like to see for mobile devices is a new class of thinner hard disk drives.
With thousands of mobile apps available, Android is ready for prime time, Pitstick said. But other panelists at the Netbook Summit
here said they are still kicking the tires on ARM-based chips and software for systems bigger than a smartphone, especially in the wake of Apple's iPad.
"We are exploring what the iPad is doing for consumers and what we can be doing--we are looking at all sorts of [alternative] devices but don't have anything to announce yet," said Masa Okumura, director of product development at Toshiba America Information Systems.
"A lot of us are learning from the iPad, where it is successful, and taking that into the development process," said Todd Bauman, a mobile PC product manager from Samsung. "We are investigating Windows and non-Windows platforms," he added.
"I have seen some of the future of form factors, and there is some great technology there," said Michael Stice, vice president of computing devices in AT&T's emerging devices group. "We have worked with Qualcomm on productss, and we will find customers where our [cellular] technology and Snapdragon is a good fit," he added.