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In advance of the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Intel has announced the 2010 silicon line-up for its Atom family of processors and related system architectures. Intel and VIA Technologies x86-based processors have powered nearly all of first generation netbook computers. By 2011, ABI Research estimates that nearly 200 million cumulative netbook computers will have shipped worldwide. However, as the popular disclaimer for trading stock goes, past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.

The x86-based netbooks have only started to receive competition in the last ninety days. Netbooks using processors based on ARM cores (from licensing partners including TI, Freescale, Qualcomm, NVIDIA and others) are launching with a vengeance in early 2010. These second-generation netbooks (both ARM-based and x86-based) tout longer battery life, high-definition multimedia playback and lower weight form-factors. A plethora of system announcements is expected during CES from both camps. All of this innovation spells C-H-O-I-C-E for consumers.

Business users will also find new netbook models specified to their liking. Qualcomm recently showed off a Lenovo device prototype that matches current netbook specifications, but uses Qualcomms Snapdragon processor. What does that mean for business users? Popular business PC brands, such as Lenovo, see an opportunity to address the low-cost computing market. The introduction sometime perhaps in the first half of 2010 will also test enterprise use of a non-Windows computer. ARM-based processors are only able to run Windows CE; not XP or the recently introduced Windows 7 OS. Will other PC OEMs race to follow Lenovos lead or watch from the sidelines? The development will be interesting to see unfold.