Intel hasn't a hope in UMPC space - report

An analyst reckons Intel hasn't a frog-in-a-hot-saucepan's hope of ruling the ultra-mobile space in the way it conquered the desktop.

ARM designs will rule the roost in the coming years, leaving heaving X86 chip monopoly Intel picking up crumbs, ABI Research forecasts.

The researcher reckons annual shipments of netbooks, MIDs, smartbooks and UMPCs based on ARM instruction sets will overtake x86-based UMDs in 2013.

Some 90 per cent of Ultra-mobile Devices (UMDs) shipped in 2009 were based on x86 processor architecture, the firm said. But ARM-based systems introduce greater choice and differentiation for system vendors and will therefore give x86-based gadgets a hiding.

According to senior analyst Jeff Orr, "2010 will be pivotal for building momentum behind non-x86 solutions, and gaining adoption in both distribution channels and by end-user populations worldwide."

A growing number of netbooks based on ARM platforms are now appearing in the market, a trend the analysts says is helped by the perception that ARM-based systems are heavily oriented towards an "always connected" mode of operation. Additionally, ARM-based products are coming out in a growing variety of different form-factors including possibly-trendy tablets, the firm notes.

Intel has been taunting ARM for the past few years, ever since it woke up to the fact that the PC of the future is, in fact, a phone. It claims an advantage reckoning that the Internet is built using X86.

This report will have the firm fuming although no-one has yet been able to repond to our requests for a comment.

Nobile operators had better gear up for the coming trend, Orr says. "In general, laptops and netbooks with embedded or attached modems contribute a significantly greater amount of traffic to 3G networks than smartphones do."

The spread of netbooks and mobile devices sporting ARM-based processors will exacerbate this data demand, which Orr describes as "not a tidal wave, but a rising tide".

ABI Research’s product Netbooks, MIDs, and Mobile CE Market Data is on sale here.