updated 11:10 am EDT, Thu May 6, 2010
Lenovo, others held up by Flash optimizations
Adobe's repeated delays for Flash are a large part of why smartbooks haven't launched yet, ARM marketing VP Ian Drew said this week. Optimizations needed to make the plugin work have prevented the Lenovo Skylight and similar ARM-based mini notebooks from meeting their original spring targets. The Skylight, for example, now may not ship until July.
Drew wouldn't tell ZDNetexactly what had triggered the delay but said there was "lots of heavy lifting" involve in getting it to work. As an Internet-dependent notebook, it was important that Flash work well enough to be useful.
The systems may have also been held up by the rise of tablets like the iPad, whose expected appearances and popularity may have upset plans for smartbooks; over 50 ARM tablets are scheduled for 2010 alone. Without the option of Windows, which needs an x86 processor, many of the companies committed to smartbooks have had to develop platforms using Android or Linux.
Intel's Atom Z600 hasn't visibly affected plans for smartbooks, Drew said. It promises the same lower-power, system-on-a-chip profile of ARM but using the x86 architecture would let companies use Windows in a smaller design than a netbook but with longer battery life.
The statements indirectly touch on a criticism stressed by Apple chief Steve Jobs. He noted that a usable version of Flash is now a year overdue and called into question Adobe's ability to trim battery consumption and performance overhead enough to render desktop-level Flash feasible on phones and smartbooks.