Bob Cringely writes about small computers in general and the AMD PIC in particular:

Think of the PIC as a cheaper, dumber Mac Mini. Most of the right bits are there and the price is right. Yes, there should be a Linux model, there should be Ethernet, and that xBox (literally) hard drive is too small. But even without Linux, given a bit more effort on AMD’s part, this little guy could be used to replace fading K-12 PCs all over America at prices that schools can actually afford. The power savings alone are such that an eight watt PIC will pay for itself in under two years.

But will any company but AMD ever build PICs? I think they should, and here’s why. There is an interesting transition taking place in the ultra-low-end computer market right now as consumers are starting to use mobile phones to perform functions that might previously have been done with handheld computers like the iPaq. As a result, handheld sales are actually dropping, which in the PC market means the niche is already dead. Microsoft is trying to follow this trend by putting its software in phones, but for the hardware OEMs the course to follow is not so clear. The logical thing to do, it seems to me, is to split the niche into its two component parts — mobile communication and cheap computing. Phones get the nod for mobility, but HP and Dell could easily pick up the cheap computing segment by selling many sub-varieties of PIC. It is ideal for home automation, for becoming a car video server to end drowning in Dora the Explorer DVDs, for acting as a home Internet gateway, for hosting the inevitable VoIP home PBX — each a 100 million unit market, and each totally untapped by the big OEMs.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.