Ultra Mobile Computing devices, including netbooks, UMPCs, Mobile Internet Devices or MIDs currently account for $3.5 billion in sales. But ABI Research expects that number to grow to $27 billiion by 2013.
That number doesn’t look too surprising to me, given the growing popularity of netbooks, which have only been around for a year or so. But ABI does make some other claims that I think need to be taken with a grain of salt. The research firm projects that by 2013 Ultra Mobile Devices running Linux will outnumber Windows products. I think the current trends seem to show the opposite. While many netbook makers looked to Linux as a way to help keep costs down on early devices while providing customers a highly customized user experience, many companies that started out offering only Linux netbooks, like Asus and Everex, are now offering Windows options as well.
I’m not saying that Linux won’t overtake Windows in the hearts and minds of netbook makers and netbook buyers in a few years. I’m just saying I have no idea if this will happpen or not and I think it’s hard to make such a claim today. Desktop Linux is getting easier and easier to use, and netbook and laptop makers are certainly beginning to adopt it as an option. But it will take heavier consumer demand to really make Linux the more popular option for manufacturers.
It’s also worth noting that Microsoft has taken steps to offer Windows XP licenses to netbook makers for extraordinarily deep discounts.
ABI Research also imagines that Intel’s x86 processors like the Intel Atom CPU that’s currently available, will dominate the UMD market in 2013.
Firstly, the only version of Windows offered today on netbooks is Windows XP Home. This is an older OS which does not connect to business networks. It is notoriously insecure, and almost all of the current malware out there in the wild targets this OS. In order to use those desktop applications which run on this OS alone, one has to spend more than the netbook itself is worth to obtain the additional desktop software. If one wants to run alternative free software desktop applications which will run on XP Home … then one should realise that these same applications wil run on Linux as well, and so any way that you look at it you are far better off with running Linux.
Secondly, there is probably a very strong market for these netbook-class machines yet to be really opened up in the area of eductaion.
Even Western countries with very strong links to the US are seeking to enjoy the use of free software and escape the proprietary lock-in (and its corresponding undesirable effect on balance-of-trade in the IT arena).
One though about linux in the future:
We geeks grew up with Windows (even DOS) in the school, and discovered MAC or Ubuntu way later, but…
What OS is growing in school environment? in China? in developing countries like mine (Colombia)?
Is not what we are thinking or using, is what our children will think or use in five years.
Just my sand grain.
I hope Linux continues to be popular on netbooks and smaller devices in future years. As a Linux beginner, I’ve enjoyed playing around with it and think it has advantages for these platforms. At present, I favor a dual boot with Windows until I can learn more about making Linux work with different wireless adapters and other hardware, and for Windows Mobile synchronization.
I’ll probably get the XP model when I buy netbooks; then I can add the Linux distro I want instead of taking the one chosen by the manufacturer. But getting the Linux model would lessen hardware driver worries. I wonder what MS has on the horizon for netbooks when they finally pull the plug again on XP.
I’m also concerned about Linux compatibility with new super-universal 3G technologies like Gobi Global Mobile and with Intel’s new WiMax techonolgy.
Intel’s “Baxter Peak” WiMax claims to be “OS-agnostic,” supporting XP, Vista, and Linux
But their “Echo Peak” WiFi-WiMax “solution” claims only XP and Vista compatibility
That’s the beauty of Linux. Even if netbook manufacturers decide to go
Windows-only, I’m certain you’ll be able to find dozens if not hundreds of
Linux distributions that work well on netbooks, MIDs, UMPCs, and cellphones
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