Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can "Atom" Bomb? Imran's Law of Expectations

Sharon Gaudlin's article in ComputerWorld April 3, 2008 begins: "With Intel Corp. betting so heavily on the mobile Internet device market exploding in the next several years, industry analysts are wondering if the fledgling business can live up to the expectations."

Intel has named the technology/chips in question ATOM. So, I guess, the question is, will Atom bomb in the marketplace?

I think some of the comments from analysts like Charles King suggest that might be the case. "For a market now in its infancy to grow that fast in just five to 10 years would be an enormous growth curve - one that may not be realistic, especially with so many people satisfied with today's iPhones and other smart phones, said Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT Inc. in Hayward, Calif."

I think King's comments are an example of Imran's Law of Expectations: "Any technology can be sufficiently overhyped to be perceived as failing to meet expectations, even if it is commercially successful in the market."

Yes, Intel (and others) will overhype this chip, this technology and this market demand. But the market 5 years from now will be far different from current form factors, so using those as benchmarks is surely a silly way to analyze the potential for this technology. The market may be smaller than Intel's hype, it may be bigger than analysts guesses, but it will be BIG. Big enough to be commercially successful.

Five years ago people using handheld PDAs could not have foreseen millions of iPhones in people's pockets today. As Apple readies its iPhone 2 device for release shortly, with even more functionality, it will be even more likely to hit its target of number of units sold.

I can only imagine what general magic Apple, and its many copy-cat product designers will do when Intel's Atom and others' even more exciting technologies become available to them to design the next generation of cool new products.

(Update: April 23, 2008: As I was writing these lines, Steve Jobs was busy negotiating the purchase of PA Semi, a StrongARM design-based chip-designer firm. It will mean far more incredible machines from Apple. Will it be a blow to intel's Atom? Yes. Will Atom bomb? Probably not, as there will be plenty of Apple-copycats out there needing chips.)

What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like Imran's Law of Expectations. Very clever and very true. It's very likely that in five years or so, the line between PDA, laptop, and PC will be blurred, with a huge range of devices in between, with a corresponding range of computing power.