Sunday, January 9, 2011

The big CES news Engadget missed

I'm quite a fan of Engadget, but I'm surprised they didn't cover the Nufront ARM laptops running Ubuntu that were demoed at CES.

You might be wondering, how does this relate to Novacut? Well, obviously we're banking on Ubuntu pretty heavily, both as a platform for content creation and a platform for content distribution. And bear in mind, we intend Novacut to be profitable... how else could we pay the developers we're going to need to really do this right?

At an emotional level, it was easy for us to choose Ubuntu (and the broader freedesktop) because it's what we know and love. But we've equally chosen Ubuntu because we think it clearly offers us the highest chance of success, and the greatest profitability. Back in July when Jeff, Tara, and I started seriously thinking about Novacut, we concluded that we could safely assume that over the next few years there will be a dramatic increase in the size of the Ubuntu user base.

Why would we think something so crazy? Because we expect a flood of sexy, cheap hardware to hit the market, running Ubuntu, and powered by ARM processors. And unlike netbooks, Microsoft can't kill this one off because they have no answer whatsoever. Considering Ubuntu is ready for ARM today, it's no surprise that Microsoft awkwardly announced that some future version of Windows will also run on ARM. That wasn't an announcement for consumers or journalists, it was a message to OEMs: "Please don't jump ship."

As far as I know, the Nufront dual-core 2GHz Cortex-A9 SOC is the first ARM SOC aimed strictly at netbooks, laptops, and desktops. It's power requirements are too high for cell phones (and pushing it even on some tablet designs), so they clearly expect enough volume without cell phones. It also has a SATA controler, something not needed by phones or tablets. It was way back in November 2008 that Canonical announced their ARM initiative, and back in June 2010 that the Linaro project was announced.

Along with Microsoft's ARM announcement at CES, NVIDIA announced project Denver with much fanfare, the overall message being that these two visionary companies will (in two years or more) deliver a future of computing where ARM is no longer just for mobile, where there is a full-blown, general-purpose OS to run on ARM. Pretty exciting, I suppose.

But if you knew where to look, the above fanfare was completely upstaged by a subtle, knowing nod from Canonical and Nufront: "Oh yeah, we've already done that, you'll be able to buy finished systems in 6 months."

Canonical didn't need a bunch of fanfare because they weren't there to talk to Journalists. Canonical was there to talk to OEMs. Apparently Microsoft noticed.

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