July 9, 2012

Samsung Looks To ARM For Windows RT Tablet

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

In what could be a hedging of bets move, Samsung will reportedly release a tablet computer that will feature Microsoft Corp.´s Windows RT software when the new OS debuts later this year. This will also be the first version of Windows that will work on ARM Holding Plc technology, and will likely be released in October.

Samsung, which successfully has released a line of Galaxy Tab devices that run on Android, could be looking for broader market coverage. Last month the company was forced to stop sales of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 after a U.S. District Judge in San Jose issued an injunction that the tablet too closely copied Apple´s iPad. Last week U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected Samsung´s request to lift her June 26 order, but across the Pond this week Judge Colin Birss QC reportedly suggested that Samsung´s tablets aren´t as “cool.”

“They do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design,” Birss was quoted in the Independent. “They are not as cool.”

Cool or not, Samsung is looking to give Apple real competition in the tablet space, just as it has in the mobile phone space. This includes support for the upcoming Windows 8, which is called Windows RT as it is optimized for touchscreens and offers the “Metro” browsing interface that is similar to the one used on the Windows Phone.

Samsung´s commitment to the new tablets comes just in time for Microsoft, which saw a major setback last week when Hewlett-Packard Co. announced it wouldn´t back Windows RT out of the gate. The world´s largest computer maker at present only plans to introduce a Windows 8 version that works only on the x86 chips by Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD).

Microsoft, which has long been associated with the x86 platform that Windows supports, has looked to build other operating systems. Windows RT was reportedly the first mainstream computer OS from the Redmond software giant to be built for touchscreen devices, and would support the so-called energy-sipping chips that are typically used in smartphones.

This move opens the door for phone-chip makers such as Qualcomm, Texas Instruments Inc. and Nvidia Corp. to compete with Intel and AMD. Samsung´s Windows RT tablet will feature the Qualcomm Inc. Snapdragon processor. The Apple iPad is already based on ARM technology.

This doesn´t necessarily mean that Intel and AMD are out of the chip-set business for tablets however. Intel announced that it had secured first refusal on significant touchscreen orders with four manufacturers. The Telegraph UK reported last week that Intel agreed to pay four Taiwanese touchscreen makers to secure suppliers of the parts.

The tablet market is forecast to jump 48 percent to $66.4 billion in 2012, according to DisplaySearch. Additionally, from 2011 to 2016 the market for tablets is predicted to grow an average of 42 percent annually versus 9 percent average growth for notebooks, IHS predicts. By 2015, tablets — with some 314 million shipments — could overtake laptops.

Microsoft clearly sees what this shift could mean for its software business and just last month announced plans to release its own tablet, the Surface. Apple led the tablet market at the end of the first quarter of this year, with 11.8 million units shipped, or 58 percent share, while Samsung was second with 11 percent with following at 5.8 percent, according to IHS iSuppli.