ARM and netbooks are a demonstration that, as the old limitations crumble, technology is taking us toward an explosion of hundreds of different types of digital devices that can use operating systems other than Windows or even Apple's OS X. Because of this, there will also be devices from many more OEMs than the half dozen or so that now rule the notebook market. And all of these devices will share one common trait: the ability to access the Web while offering their own unique applications and services.
Last week David Marshall's podcast talked about a company called AppZero that demonstrated a technology to create appliances without the need for an operating system. Read also Neil McAllister's blog, Fatal Exception, where he writes about iPhones, netbooks, and the age of the invisible PC.
Now there are some challenges if a netbook OEM wants to use an ARM-powered processor, so let's talk about those for a moment.
At present, you can't run YouTube at full screen. However, ARM's James Bruce tells me Adobe will make Flash 10 support available for ARM before the end of the year, and that challenge will disappear.
But what about the major objection that current ARM stand-alone microprocessors, TI cell phone devices not withstanding, can't run Windows applications? True, but this is exactly one of the chains I spoke about that will fall apart thanks to cloud computing, Web 2.0 applications, and browsers behaving like operating systems, not to mention other choices like Linux.
ARM works well with Linux. Read Galen Gruman's piece on desktop Linux and why it makes sense for mainstream use.
Like a previous generation's style of wearing gold chains around their necks to look cool, which now looks awfully silly, the heavyweight gold chains of Windows, Intel, and AMD are also looking kind of foolish. Over the next several years, they will simply be out of style.