A leap in mobile computing


A leap in mobile computing

Microscope contributor


There were two landmark announcements in our corner of the tech world recently that have the potential to change the definition of mobile computing.


The first came from Intel and focused on their new mobile chips. They introduced a brand of chips called the Atom and AtomCentrino. The basic Atom chip is optimised for use in what Intel calls netbooks. A good example of a netbook is the ASSUS EEE mobile computer. And the Centrino Atom is designed for use in a mobile internet device (MID) and is patterned after a UMPC, but is focused less on corporate markets, rather aimed at consumers.


These chips are important in two ways. The first is that they will deliver pretty high processing speeds (1.0 GHz and above over time) yet draw less then 7 Watts of power today and under 3 Watts within six months. But in a year this chip will be able to draw less then 1 Watt of power and at that point it most likely will look to the smart phone market and ARM processors. It is clear Intel has the smart phone market in their sight and is going to be very aggressive in trying to get all the handset vendors to adopt their powerful mobile chips.


The other announcement was the Apple SDK for developers that really expand the capabilities of the iPhone. When the updated release of the iPhone software version 2.0 comes out in late June, the iPhone will be transformed into a handheld computing device that meets the demands and needs of business and consumer users alike.

So, how are these two announcements connected?


At the Apple SDK launch, Apple also announced a $100 million fund for iPhone programmers called the iFund and backed by Kleiner Perkins, one of Silicon Valleys premier venture capitalists. At the event, Kleiner Partner John Doer made a most important statement.


He said the iPhone is the next PC. Keep in mind that this is the guy who invested in Google, Amazon and dozens of companies that has made him a billionaire. So when he speaks it is worth listening to what he has to say. His prediction is that smart phones, and especially the iPhone, will become the next major computing platform and that he and Kleiner Perkins is willing to put up a serious amount of money on this bet.

I am sure he sees the next generation of Intel low-voltage chips delivering the kind of power needed to make a handheld device like the iPhone become a true computer in your pocket.


Although Apple has not announced the use of an Intel chip in an iPhone yet, they will surely be tempted to use it at some point, especially if it can deliver 1GHz of power at very low voltage.


Sometime in the future as we look back at these two announcements, we will see that together they launched the next PC platform. Only this time it is not a desktop or even a laptop.


It is a smart phone and I believe it will redefine the mobile computing experience of the future.

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