ComputerWorld's Seth Weintraub wrote an excellent article about Apple's choice of the ARM processor – which is used in the iPhone and iPod touch –and why it will most likely chose ARM for a netbook and/or tablet Mac.
Despite the fact that Apple buys its desktop and notebook processors exclusively from Intel and its Atom processors are already in most shipping netbooks, Weintraub notes that the ARM Cortex A8 processor "absolutely kills the Intel Atom in power efficiency."
ARM and Intel are doing battle because they are encroaching on each other's turf in much the same way that Verizon and Time Warner are in the Cable/Phone/Internet space. ARM is getting fast enough to build a netbook while Intel is getting miserly enough in power to be put into a phone. 2009 will be a huge face-off between the two in this field.
In November's Q4'08 earnings conference call Apple CEO Steve Jobs told analysts that Apple was taking a "wait and see" approach on netbooks – defined as a small, low-cost, mobile computing device designed for consuming content, rather than creating new content. Jobs later admitted that "we've got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve."
I agree with Weintraub that Jobs' remarks scream "tablet."
Jobs stated that Apple's "entrance into that category" is the iPhone and when you think about it, a tablet or netbook is the logical progress of the iPhone. Apple's been perfecting the touchscreen interface with the smallish iPhone and it wouldn't take much to release incrementally larger-screen devices. If all goes well, Apple could eventually ship a full-size tablet. In the mean time, the footprint will grow slowly over time.
What's your take on the netbook hysteria? Is it a product looking for a market? Or just a clever name-change for the poor selling "tablet?"