Saturday, September 16, 2006

1 billion mobile devices to be sold in 2006

Already pressured about no longer being on the Moore's Law curve (the Pentium 5 being at 2 year doubling times) and distracted by Microsoft Vista's impending arrival, the computing industry is further stymied by the boom in mobile devices (1 billion units to be sold worldwide in 2006) vs. PCs (250 million units to be sold worldwide in 2006).

PCs or Computing (servers, desktops and laptops) have always driven industry design roadmaps. Now semiconductor and other vendors are struggling to assess whether and how to adapt their design processes for the increasingly divergent exigencies of computing, networking, gaming and mobile devices. A variety of chip and systems level designs are proliferating across the supply chain which could drive innovation and improvements but could also entail friction and complexity and in any case are too early for significant positive results to be reaped.

In the memory segment, NOR and NAND's mobile device focused growth is due to overtake that of general computing's mainstay DRAM. New memory solutions discussed at last week's San Jose CA MemCon are also in the offing such as solid state hard drives (expensive and less-proven technology) which would allow quicker machine booting and application loading and a variety of hybrid hard drive solutions including Intel's Robson interface (a closer extension of today's technology).

The computing industry is traditionally-minded, cloistered and responsive vs. visionary; a behemoth focused on managing complex integrated global supply chains with long product design and life cycles ($25 million average chip design costs) and not meta-level change.

The biggest risk is that despite rampant demand and wireless broadband proliferation, the computing industry continues to dismiss mobile devices and ignores the real potential power of the mobile computing platform.