PORTLAND, Ore.—Consumer electronics is on the brink of a "smart devices
revolution" according to the consumer electronics panel members at last week's
Freescale Technology Forum in Orlando, Fla. According to members of the panel,
the elements necessary for such a revolution have been maturing over the past
decade and will begin to blossom by the 2010 holiday season now that the global
recession is receding.
New media tablets and smartbooks will soon be flooding the market, according
to panel moderator Jeff Orr, senior mobile devices analyst at ABI Research. Orr
predicts that more than 163 million media tablets and smartbooks will be shipped
Panel members backed up Orr's predictions, adding the these new consumer
devices will not be running Microsoft operating systems on Intel processors like
today's computers, but instead will use smaller, cheaper, lower power ARM-based
microcontrollers running open-source variants of Linux.
"The long term is wild exciting—I look forward to dethroning Intel as number
one semiconductor supplier—there are huge opportunities for billions of smart
mobile devices," said Glen Burchers, consumer segment director at Freescale
Semiconductor Inc. "We were hit by the recession, which clearly slowed down
development, but for the current year I expect to see tens of tablets and
smartbooks, with clamshell and sliding keyboards, to be introduced in the next
ARM, likewise, has been maturing over the last decade, but has now surpassed
the mainstream computer microprocessors from Intel for the low-cost and
low-power needed by mobile devices, according to Warren East, CEO of ARM Ltd.
"It takes six to 10 years for a new architecture to fully blossom," said
East. "But now we have all the technology ingredients from which a new era of
content consuming devices will be built."
Open-source software has also been maturing for the last decade, and now has
passed Microsoft in keeping up with usage trends, according to Michael Kress,
senior director at Canonical Ltd., a provider of support, engineering services
and hardware and software certification for the Linux-variant Ubuntu.
"We are taking the best of all the open source software available today and
bringing it together into a single platform. Linux continues to evolve, coming
out with a new version every six months, unlike Microsoft which is much slower
to respond," said Kress. "We think that Linux is the one—with Android, Amigo and
Ubuntu leading the smart devices revolution."