There has been a lot of bad news from the chip giants this quarter, but it’s not the decline of the PC or even merely economic worries pressing on the sector. No, there’s a systemic change in the market and the industry giants are reacting.
For the last five years we’ve become accustomed to seeing the hottest tech hit our mobile phones, but that may be about to change. The chip industry is betting on our vehicles as the new platform for innovation and are building more speciality silicon for cars.
Over the last few years Mobile World Congress, the mobile phone industry trade show, has experienced a shift from being about mobile phones to being about always-on connectivity. Mobile broadband has changed the value of the mobile ecosystem and thus the players who care about it.
ARM (s armh) and more than 35 other companies have banded together to create an alliance dubbed the Solution Center for Android, which is aimed at increasing the resources available for developers trying to build for the relatively young OS on top of ARM hardware. Android, an open-source, Linux-based OS pioneered by Google (s goog), is the underlying operating system in several popular smartphones such as those from HTC and the Motorola (S mot) Droid. Read More about Android Gets Some Serious Support for Consumer Devices
[show=unskippable]Every icon has his or her imitators, and while The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart didn’t invent the concept of snarking at the news in a quasi-reporting format, his influence has had a profound impact not just on the television world, but on web video. And shows that draw inspiration from the format continue to find fresh approaches to the idea.
Of course, the easiest way to put a new spin on an old idea is to tailor it for a specific audience — which the the guys and gals from sketch comedy team Loading Ready Run nail with the Escapist News Network by focusing exclusively on video game news and culture. Hosted by Graham Stark and Kathleen DeVere, ENN‘s one-liners and punchlines can be a little dense for those outside the video game world, but even a casual gamer can appreciate a story on the gaming site Popcap that references the “enslavement of the human race via the highly addictive drug Bejeweled [Popcap’s insanely popular puzzle game].” Read More about The Daily Show’s Stepchildren Now Include Escapist News Network and Newsish
Google’s Chrome OS may or may not make it, but the attempt shows how far the computer industry has come from a bulky PC chained to a desk by its power cord and Ethernet cable. The computer is evolving from those dinosaurs to a smaller, mobile model that is always connected to the web. The iPhone brought us apps that are lightweight so users don’t get bogged down by smaller processors and slower wireless web connections on mobile devices. Google’s Chrome OS attempts to keep that speed, while preserving a platform for Google to make money through advertising.
Nokia (s NOK), Motorola (s MOT), Research in Motion (s RIM), Apple (s aapl) (yes, even Apple) and six other cell phone makers have agreed to a European Commission request to develop a universal charger. The agreement was announced today by the the EC. The new handsets will use Micro-USB connectors, and will be available in Europe beginning next year. The GSM Association had been working on a similar effort to deliver a universal charger by 2012.
Importantly, only data-enabled phones will be able to accept the universal charger, since those are the phones that currently contain Micro-USB ports. While the Micro-USB standard may be replaced by a different one someday, for now having a universal charger will make it easier to replenish phones while on the road. As for reducing waste, I’m less certain that will happen unless cell phone providers stop including a charger with each phone. The EC hopes that the universal charger will spread beyond its borders, which is likely to happen given that the powerful GSM Association is also in favor of such a standard, but perhaps not by 2010.
Our friends at jkOnTheRun are wondering if this standard will make its way to the US? I certainly hope so.
Micro-USB and USB image courtesy of George Shuklin
Texas Instruments (s TXN) is looking to hop on the trend of using non x86 processors in the data center, according to Kathy Brown, general manager of the company’s wireless base station infrastructure business. Last night over dinner, Brown said the wireless chip powerhouse was trying to build a software framework that would enable researchers to run Linux on its high-end digital signal processing chips (DSP) used for scientific computing. Read More about TI Wants to Use DSPs for Low-power Computing
Texas Instruments (s TXN) is expected to this week release details of its next-generation application processor, the OMAP 4 family of chips, which has made my love for Nvidia’s (s NVDA) APX25000 processor grow cold. I’m faithless when a chipmaker shows me the prospect of 1080p video playback, 10 times the web surfing speed, a 20 megapixel camera and 130 hours of audio playback on a mobile device. And did I mention that this is a true dual-core chipset? Chips like this mean mobile computing is really living up its computing label. Read More about Texas Instruments to Offer a Champion Chipset for Mobile
Yesterday’s news that notebooks had overtaken PCs in the number of units sold last quarter owes a huge debt to Wi-Fi and a smaller one to 3G cellular networks. Without those Intel unwired commercials and images of folks surfing the web at Starbucks or sitting in parks, notebooks would still be expensive toys of road warriors. My bet is, in the next decade, those using desktops will be researchers, engineers and people needing access to computers closer in size and performance to desktop supercomputers. That, and folks who want to use a desktop as a media server.
The rest of us will tote ultra-thin laptops (especially if Dell releases a sweet one that’s not too pricey), laptops, netbooks and smartphones that have screen sizes between 3 and 5 inches — likely two of these options. So what does this mean for the electronics industry? Read More about Wireless Built the Notebook Boom