Even if you never heard of ARM processors, chances are you own a device that uses them. ARM’s chips power most of the tablets and smartphones sold around the world, so when the CEO behind the company comments on where he sees mobility headed, it’s worth a listen.
ARM’s CEO Warren East spoke with financial analysts following the company’s big fourth quarter earnings report. Pretax profit rose 45% ($108 million), while sales rose 21% to $217 million.
But it was East’s comments afterwards that provided some interesting perspective on where the U.K.-based chipmaker sees the market headed. With the upcoming release of Windows 8, Microsoft will for the first time be supporting ARM processors -- as well as mainstay Intel chips of course. CNet reports that an analyst asked East why consumers would buy Windows 8 tablets when Android tablet sales have been "disappointing.”
Without getting into a technical features comparison, East said Microsoft’s brand recognition is going to help.
"Consumers are familiar with Microsoft and very familiar with Windows and they're less familiar with an Android environment. Microsoft has an awareness advantage with consumers that the Android folks didn't have," he said.
"It's up to Microsoft [and we'll see] how well they're going to exploit that advantage,” East added. “But I think that's a fundamental difference."
Early reviews of prototype Windows 8 tablets have been good, but just how well Microsoft’s markets the devices and developers support the OS with new apps remains to be seen.
Perhaps realizing he didn’t want to leave a key partner out in the cold, East later added that he believes Android tablets just need more time, noting that it took a while for Android phone sales to take off.
But he was less charitable to rival Intel. "One of the factors that -- one of the hurdles -- that they have to overcome is the fact that every day there's 700,000 Android phones activated around the ARM architecture and the application developers are working on creating applications that run on ARM," he said.