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Panel questions future of MID market

Posted: 16 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MID market? processor? smart phone?

The outlook is unclear for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) according to a panel of marketing executives at the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC).

Intel Corp. promoted the idea of MIDs as part of its market preparation when it was developing its Atom processor, a low power x86 for mobile devices. An Intel executive canceled plans to be on the panel, opening up an opportunity for competitors to hammer on the company's product concept.

"MIDs were conceived by Intel because they couldn't sell Atom into a cellphone," said Ian Drew, a VP of segment marketing at ARM Ltd.

Keith Kressin, a senior director of marketing at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies agreed. MIDs will not see the kind of mass market adoption of notebooks and smart phones, he added.

"You really have two categories: a smart phone getting bigger and a laptop getting a little smaller," Kressin said.

"You can call them a category if you want, but MIDs are basically a larger smart phone," he said. "My phone can do almost all the stuff a MID can do."

Kressin critiqued MIDs as too large to fit into a pocket, often lacking key features such as voice communications and offering poor battery life. That's why they have to date sold only in small volumes to date, he added.

Market opportunities
Panelistsincluding Intel competitors ARM, Qualcomm and Texas Instrumentssaid they believe Intel ultimately will be successful planting the x86 in successful handheld products. But the company faces many challenges in chip, system and software technology.

"There's no question Intel will get there with lower power, it will just take time," said Kressin. "Smart phones represent a different paradigm than PCs, but Intel will get there because they are a very bright group of people," he added.

Jan Rabaey, a Berkeley professor who moderated the panel, said there is a clear collision coming between small notebooks and more powerful smart phones. He suggested the big opportunity ahead is in growing the smart phone market which has been estimated at 190 units last year growing to as many as 700 million in 2012.

"Clearly there's a lot of growth in this space and a lot of opportunity," said Rabaey, well known for his work in wireless. "How to get to that 700 million number is a good question," he added.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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