If Atom is a success and goes the way Intel want it to, this new and rather small sub-category in the Intel Software Network forums could become huge. Really huge.
In a post from Intel’s Jeff Moriarty, you can read about the launch of the Atom Software Developers Community which pulls together a number of developer resources covering the hardware and software that goes together to make an Atom-based devices. Note that it’s Atom-based devices and not Mobile Internet Devices because Intel have plans for Atom that go far beyond cheap notebooks and UMPCs. The ultimate aim is an Atom-based smartphone which completely changes the numbers for Atom. Even if MIDs take off and netbooks become the de-facto choice for students, an entry into the multi-multi-million unit smartphone market would dwarfe everything that Atom had done previously. It doesn’t stop there either. I recall Intel talking about Atom at IDF and CeBit saying that the platform would be so cheap in terms of hardware and software development costs that it could be dropped into consumer goods without having a major effect on the end-user price. TV’s, cars and the fridge could all be Atom powered in the future. Add the obvious industrial applications and the potential market gets very interesting indeed. [More after the break]
As I write this though, there’s less than 10 threads in the forum and a long way to go. A lot of Atom’s success relies on OSS developers and ISV’s to get involved and support Windows-based development and especially Moblin, the Linux-based operating system core because without UI’s and compelling applications, its nothing. Intel already have partners in Canonical and Asianux who are building complete distributions that can be modified by OEMs and distro-builders but that’s just the starting point.
Quite how Intel are going to find the developers when most of them appear to be competing for funds that are available in other developer programs, the iPhone and Android being two of the high-profile projects, is a mystery to me. Maybe they could offer Moblin to the Open Handset Alliance which Intel is already a member of and draw on the resource there. Android has a similar focus towards Internet-centric devices, has a high profile and is well positioned to compete against other software stacks. Its possible that this is already happening. Another option would be to team up with Nokia who have a lot of application-layer and GUI development already done for their Internet tablets. I’m not sure how that would sit with other Nokia activities but it would certainly send a strong message to ARM. The alternative option is to offer bigger sums of money than the competitors to attract developers but that would just seem like a cheap trick and a copycat move at this stage of the game. Maybe Intel don’t need to do anything at all just yet. Over the long term, organic growth and promotional activities at IDF events might be enough.
Its a good time to be a mobile software developer right now but choosing the right platform to target is a tough one. The ISN is the perfect place to do the research so it makes sense to join-up and start throwing difficult questions at Intel. We’ll be following the progress very closely at UMPCPortal.
Also on the Atom Software Developer Community web pages:
- MID developers forum
- Development Toolkit
- MID Wiki a new resource launched a few weeks ago.
- What is Intel Atom
- A list of the latest blog posts by the ISN team
- ultra mobile PC development guide (UMPCs are defined by Intel as devices running full operating system software stacks.)
- UI Design guide for MIDs
- Links to Moblin, the open source platform for Atom.