Thursday, April 3, 2008
The market for mobile internet devices (MIDs) is set to explode over the coming years
The world's biggest computer chip maker Intel unveiled on Wednesday a set of tiny "Atom" processors it says will give mobile devices desktop computing power.
Energy-sipping Atom chips coupled with graphics technology will be built into sleek "smart phones" and other "mobile Internet devices" (MIDs) that fit in people's pockets, according to the US company.
Atom processing combined with innovation from device manufacturers and software makers "will change the way consumers will come to know and access" the Web," Intel promised.
"Today is a historic day for Intel and the high-tech industry," Intel senior vice president Anand Chandrasekher said in a written release.
"These forthcoming MIDs, and some incredible longer-term plans our customers are sharing with us, will show how small devices can deliver a big Internet experience."
Atom chips with speeds as fast as 1.86 GHz enable quick downloading of Internet pages and playing of rich video and audio files, according to Intel.
Mobile internet devices click with usersThe market for mobile internet devices (MIDs) is set to explode over the coming years, according to a panel of analysts at the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai.
MIDs are a brand new platform that is expected to see rapid adoption as it fills the gap between laptops and smartphones.
Growth will be driven by the increasing mobility of users who currently lack a single device to accomplish all tasks. This is because notebooks are too cumbersome and mobile phones are too limited.
One analyst even predicted that the MID market would grow faster than the overall mobile sector.
This is because the necessary infrastructure is already in place, meaning that growth will not be hampered as it was for mobiles as networks were being established.
One analyst explained that "there are a lot of hungry vendors out there, which can only be good for the industry and customers".
Although the MID form factor is very similar to that of ultra mobile PCs (UMPCs), they differ in focus and features.
While UMPCs aim to provide a full PC experience in a handheld form factor, MIDs are more focused on connectivity and internet access.
Jim McGregor, research director and principal analyst at In-Stat, told vnunet.com that MIDs are essentially an evolution of UMPCs.
Although UMPCs have not been particularly successful to date, the timing now is much better for the launch of MIDs.
"This is more about timing than technology. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together," said McGregor.
"The hardware is now powerful enough, the ubiquitous connectivity is there and the demand for full mobile internet access from consumers is there as well. "
However, the panel pointed out that MIDs still have hurdles to overcome if they are to see mass adoption.
The biggest stumbling blocks seen by the analysts are the potential usage models of these devices, and the business models that operators and carriers will employ.
To overcome the first problem manufacturers need to make available a wide range of MIDs in a variety of form factors and at a range of price points, allowing customers to decide which device best suits their requirements and budget.
As the primary focus of the MIDs is connectivity and web services, the second issue of operator tariffs could make or break the platform in certain markets.
All the analysts stressed that in order for MIDs to see the best possible adoption rates mobile operators need to scrap usage-based payment plans and adopt flat-rate models and use other value-added services to boost revenues.
IDF - Intel has a Chip, but Where Are the MIDs?
For all the fanfare surrounding the launch of Intel's Centrino Atom chip package at the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai, there was a notable shortage of new products based on the chips, apart from a few concept designs rolled out for the occasion.
Centrino Atom, which includes an Atom processor and a chipset, was billed as the heart of a new class of computing devices, handheld computers that Intel calls Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). These new devices, which promise mobile Internet access and the ability to communicate or play multimedia files, are scheduled to arrive during the second or third quarter, but that seems unlikely to happen, at least in any significant volumes.
"As with most Jetsons-like products, they tend to suffer from too much hype and overly high expectations," said Bryan Ma, director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific, referring to the 1960s television cartoon about life in the distant future replete with flying cars, robots, and other gadgets.
IDC hasn't issued a forecast for the number of MIDs that will be shipped this year. There are "a lot of hesitations and concerns" about this product segment, Ma said, adding he doesn't expect to see widespread demand for MIDs for several years, at least.
The biggest concern is the lack of awareness among users. Many consumers don't yet understand how MIDs can be useful to them in their daily lives, Ma said, adding that other concerns include product design, usability issues, and pricing.
For Intel's part, the company says a range of MIDs are in the works and insists the designs showcased at IDF are soon headed to users. "We've got over 20 [manufacturers] planning products," said Gary Willihnganz, director of marketing at Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, during a conference call with reporters.
Several of the concept MID designs shown at IDF had been exhibited before. Others, such as Panasonic's ToughBook, seemed to stretch the MID concept by adding features and capabilities beyond what was originally envisioned by Intel, blurring the distinctions between MIDs and other types of portable computers.
For example, MIDs were originally envisioned running customized versions of Linux, but Intel now says they will also ship with Windows XP and Windows Vista. These versions of Microsoft's operating system are generally more at home in a laptop or desktop instead of a handheld device that's designed to fit in a pocket.
Creating demand for a new category of computing device is not an easy task. Looking ahead, the key for Intel is to build awareness about MIDs with users and focus on early adopters, IDC's Ma said, adding that a catalyst product is needed to spur wider demand. And that product may already exist, he said.
Both Apple's iPod Touch and Nokia's N800 series of Internet tablets fit Intel's definition of a MID, although they are not based on processors from the chip maker. Both devices use processors based on a core developed by Arm, a U.K. company that has long specialized in the design of low-power processor cores used in mobile devices and cellular phones.
They are also significantly cheaper than the US$500 starting price Intel envisions for MIDs, with the iPod Touch priced from $299 and the N800 priced at $240.
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Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 5:45 PM