Is This ARM's Multibagger Moment?

Netbooks built with ARM Holdings' (Nasdaq: ARMH  ) low-power processors and running Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android operating system were on display this week at the Computex trade show in Taiwan, IDG News service reports.

Several in the industry have been anticipating Android netbooks for some time now, yours truly included. What's new is ARM's presence in this emerging market. A common architecture for mobile phones, ARM has never been much of a computer brand -- certainly not when compared to Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) or Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) .

Netbooks aren't exactly PCs, though, and Android was designed from the start to crunch data in a way that ARM processors would understand -- just like every other mobile phone operating system.

So far, the Android-ARM combination is proving flexible and turning heads. For example, two Gartner analysts who saw Android-ARM netbooks in action at Computex spoke fondly of what might be.

"When Android did work, we found that the user interface was very snappy on relatively low-performance ARM processors, more so than Windows 7 on Atom," researchers Christian Heidarson and Ben Lee wrote in a note to clients.

So Android-ARM is the better alternative for netbooks? Not so fast, Fool. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) may have stubbed a toe with its netbook positioning but Android is still very early in this market. And in its home market of mobile operating systems, Google is buying market share and borrowing from American Idol to lure developers to the Android platform.

And yet there's no turning back. Android has shown ARM to be a viable, cost-effective, low-power alternative chip architecture for netbooks -- unleashing a hypergrowth opportunity for a company that's lacked one for far too long.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy, still a teen, remains in its hypergrowth phase.


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  • Report this Comment On June 17, 2009, at 7:28 PM, masterN17 wrote:

    The only problem I have with ARM is that they are a royalties and holdings group. They don't make chips, they just collect on other chipmakers (Atmel, Freescale, etc) paying for and using their architecture. And you can bet those chipmakers are going to keep those licensing costs as low as possible. I would not expect ARM to ever rise above anything what it was previously in the near term, which is around $7-$8.

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