Looks nice. I'm getting more and more pulled to doing electronic projects for hobby. This would be good for an alarm system for my home and having it connected to a server ... mmm who needs a server while there are a whole lot out there now... I bet this little thing can run a script which will write things to twitter or facebook. even If some burglar comes in, It'll immediately post his picture on my page and all my friends can help me snatch the guy :). OpenCV for image recognition comes to the rescue.
I don't think it is a direct assault by the IC manufacturers because the volume of the market combined with the support package of a PLC. However the indirect assault by companies abandoning PLCs and rolling their own control systems has to be serious.
If someone built a better software suite for one of the embedded platforms and a more robust IO interface, it could challenge head on.
The energy consumption of an older computer would pay for a new embedded computer fairly quickly. Unfortunately reusing computing is probably increasingly uneconomical compared to recycling it at a waste disposal site.
Following my comments about convergence with PLC or even better, disrupting PLC markets, you can even buy very inexpensive I/O conditioners with RS-485 comms (easily implemented with 2USD RS-485 transceiver) and process almost anything in a less expensive way than most PLCs brands...
PLC brands should be careful, we may face the end of an era with these boards...
It is the convergence against expensive PLCs. If you want ethernet in most scenarios, the minimum price is around 500-700USD, any brand, Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Opto22...I suspect TI, Atmel and others are attacking that niche...even software from Microsoft or Linux are much more powerful than old ladder logic or bad text-structured
I don't know what the killer app is going to be but they certainly did the right thing by making it extremely open---all hardware and software docs are widely available and documentation is good. Already they have a large number of software and hardware projects for the platform---it's amazing how rapidly it progresses. I think they'll challenge Arduino on its own ground.
Interestingly there's a realtime Linux project Xenomai, so beagleboards are going into embedded control: motion, power, etc.
perfect for battery/solar powered sensor servers/gateways.
security alarm with cameras , motion detection etc
perfect for a carpark spammer/advertising for shops (via web/bt) in car parks with wifi/bt dongle
If you get a board with sata (see comments above) make your own simple nas or database server (works great with node.js)
hook up some decent adc's and make a network based oscilliscope, remote telescope controller
perfect for a car computer
only limited by your imagination