ABI: 163 millions smartbook's to be shipped in 2015
While the smartbook’s genre is only just starting to see the first commercial products released, the research group ABI Research is already predicting more than 160 million devices to be shipped in 2015.
Smartbook’s are a new mobile product category, or rather a device format derived from different elements present in existing mobile products. The smartbook isn’t defined so much by its aspects but rather by its onboard processor architecture.
Smartbook’s can come in a diverse range (Smartphone, tablet PC, pseudo-netbook) but it mustn’t operate an Intel x86 processor. This is the definition that the research group ABI Research has attempted to define the product group by.
At the front line of "other" processor architectures, we find the ARM which provides the smartbook with legitimacy as this is currently found mainly in mobile phones.
The smartbook, a category which talks to chip manufacturers
The notion of a smartbook was more or less introduced by the chipset manufacturer Qualcomm (they claim to be the author of this denomination, although they consider it to be generic) who created one of the first devices in an effort to extend the Smartphone world so as to offer their SnapDragon hardware platform to other mobile products.
Other chipset manufacturers are trying to take the jump as well, like Freescale who created a partnership with a design school to get an initial idea about converging mobile devices which may be possible in the future.
Since then, the first commercial smartbook’s have started to emerge like the Lenovo Skylight, announced at the Las Vegas CES 2010, while other large manufacturers are also developing their own products like the HP prototype unveiled at CES which has since become the Compaq AirLife, powered by a SnapDragon processor and operating Android.
While Smartbook’s have all the necessary ingredients to become a success, we don’t yet know how the public will react to these mobile products promising Instant ON (always connected, immediate access) and a battery life of one day with connectivity always enabled.
Some tricks to avoid before success
For ABI Research, success will undoubtedly follow, with their latest report predicting that 163 million smartbook’s will be shipped in 2015. This would correspond to a fast adoption rate by users for a product category which has only existed since 2008.
Numerous market players are interested in developing the concept, like Texas Instruments (OMAP3, the powerful variation of the OMAP36, and in future, the OMAP4) and Nvidia (Tegra 2) who are offering hardware platforms which can be used for the creation of smartbooks. ABI Research notes that even the Apple iPad, with their Apple A4 processor with an ARM core could be classified as a smartbook.
Having said this, the notion of different processor architecture is difficult for the general public to understand, with this creation of a new mobile product category running the risk of creating confusion among users.
Besides the delicate question of how to position the products, the question of price may put a few manufacturers off as well. It shouldn’t be forgotten that mobile roaming products have been on the table since the beginning of the 2000’s, with it even being heavily pushed by Microsoft in 2006 through their Origami project.
Besides the technologies not yet being adapted to users needs, greatly limiting the possibilities of a device titled UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) notably due to the battery life (can a product with only 3 hours battery life really be considered roaming?), the price (more than 800 dollars on average) ended up ruining Microsoft’s ambitions in this field.
ABI Research strongly indicated to manufacturers that they would have to offer products starting at 200 dollars or less if they want the Smartbook category to prosper, no matter what form they may take.
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