Lenovo's Skylight smartbook launch delay was rumored to be so that the company could rework the software and make it more competitive against the iPad; according to ARM, that reworking could predominantly be happening in Adobe's labs. The company's VP of marketing, Ian Drew, told ZDNet that smartbooks had "stalled" because of Adobe's delay in bringing Flash Player 10 and AIR support to ARM chipsets; "Our target is mostly internet machines — it becomes sort of a requirement that they run the internet" he highlighted, before going on to suggest that would-be smartbook manufacturers had been "confused" by the flurry in tablet form-factor devices.
"We thought [smartbooks] would be launched by now, but they're not. I think one reason is to do with software maturity. We've seen things like Adobe slip — we'd originally scheduled for something like 2009" Ian Drew, marketing vice president, ARM
The tablet impact was further compounded by ARM's own involvement in the form-factor, with one of the company's executives predicting earlier this year that over 50 such devices using ARM chipsets would arrive this year. That, Drew reckons, left companies planning notebook-style smartbooks floundering somewhat.
Third on Drew's list is the relative shortage of Linux-based netbooks on the market, contrary to initial expectations about the form-factor. While Linux was a common feature on the low-cost ultraportables initially, consumer confusion with the unfamiliar OS and demands for higher-spec models that could handle high-def media playback saw Windows XP make a reappearance.
"We now know what we didn't know two years ago. It has taught us a lot about how we work with software companies" Drew claims, though it remains to be seen whether they can pick up after the stalled momentum. Last month, HP launched their first smartbook in Spain, the Compaq Airlife 100, in partnership with carrier Telefonica.