Betting On Mobility, Still, In 2005


When looking for growth in the PC industry, keep your eyes on three factors over the next few months: mobility, mobility and mobility.

Today, Intel launches its much-anticipated Sonoma version of the Centrino mobile platform, a move that it says will add better performance and features to what is now its fastest-growing business.

In case anyone doubts whether or not Intel continues to smell money in the mobile space in 2005, consider that it is investing heavily to train 900 integrators in the channel next month on just how to bring Sonoma-based and other mobile platforms to market. Other numbers this week bear out that investment. (And don't forget, by the way, that of about 150 new notebook designs based on Sonoma, at least half will be "white book" designs provided by system builders.)

For example, research firm Gartner said yesterday that in a year that saw a resurgent PC market, sales of mobile computers were a significant driving force.

There were some weaknesses in the U.S. and Middle East, Gartner found, but that was balanced out elsewhere by low prices and the market's growing thirst for mobility.

But mobility could be a two-edged sword for the PC, according to some.

In fact, Sun Microsystems President and COO Jonathan Schwartz, in his blog, observed this yesterday: "The common wisdom is that mobile devices are insufficient for the demands of content creators, who must therefore default to a PC. Me, I wouldn't bet on that as a lasting conclusion. My bet is more people will buy camera phones this year than the world will buy PCs."

But eventually, that camera phone content has to be stored, managed and perfected. And with all the resources being thrown at Sonoma and the numbers coming out of Gartner, a lot of bets are being placed on mobile PCs, too.