Good news for the awaited ARM-based Netbook roll-out is that IBM has gone in with Canonical to make the latter’s Ubuntu Linux operating system and IBM applications software available for Netbooks.
OK, the package is only available in Africa, but it means that IBM reckons Ubuntu is ready to go, and that means the biggest obstacle to getting ARM-based Netbooks into the market could be sorted.
With Intel motoring like crazy on its Netbook programme, planning to manufacture 32nm Atoms in the next six months, planning to package a GPU with the 32nm Atom die, and announcing an Atom Apps Store (don’t panic: the SDK doesn’t exist yet), the ARM camp needs to show product before the idea of a non-Intel Netbook becomes outlandish.
You only have to look at the EC’s evidence published this week, showing how Intel’s influence persuaded HP, Acer and Lenovo to delay the launch of AMD-based products, to wonder what kind of arm-twisting and inducements are being applied to Netbook software developers, and to the Taiwanese OEMs, about any plans they may have for a Qualcomm-based Netbook, or Freescale, Nvidia, Marvell, TI or Samsung based Netbooks.
Key to the success of non-Intel Netbooks is usability. Windows does not seem to be an option, so Windows-oriented users need to be able to move to a Linux-based software platform seamlessly, easily and hassle-free.
If IBM’s software package has managed to achieve this, then the IBM distribution muscle could ensure that an ARM-Ubuntu-IBM model could penetrate other markets than Africa.
Meanwhile the amount of energy being generated by Intel in the Netbook market suggests it is out to smother the fledglings before they can get out of the egg.