Smartbook shipments to reach 163 million by 2015

A senior analyst has predicted that global shipments of non-X86 powered smartbooks will reach 163 million in 2015.

According to ABI researcher Jeff Orr, a smartbook can be defined as a low-powered device running a mobile operating system that is always connected, either via Wi-Fi, cellular or mobile broadband.

“Smartbooks [may] take many different shapes. They are a subset of MIDs (mobile Internet devices) and netbooks and address the same potential users, usage, pricing, and market needs. The difference is that they don’t use x86 processors,” Orr told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

“Qualcomm and Freescale have been the largest promoters of the smartbook concept. Other chipmakers such as TI and Nvidia that are producing ARM-based processors are active in this market as well.”

Orr explained that the “first waves” of devices were designed by a number of “established” vendors, including Lenovo, Sharp and Apple (iPad), as well as by “newcomers” such as Always Innovating.

However, Orr also warned manufacturers against creating a “separate market [smartbook] category” with a new name.

“Technical definitions don’t mean much to most consumers [and] the idea of a ‘smartbook’ doesn’t resonate with anybody thinking of buying such a device,” cautioned Orr.

“Consumers hear about netbooks as alternatives to laptops and MIDs as alternatives to mobile phones, and can understand that. We believe the best opportunity in this ultra-mobile device market lies in new form-factors [and] entry-level smartbook prices [of] $200 or less.”