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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Will Mobiles Displace Laptops?

Businessweek writes," Lots of today’s phone limitations would be overcome and in the future, many users would use PDA’s and cellphones instead of laptops.The article points to changing technology that enables foldable displays, overcoming display related limitations. Mike Masnick argues,"Both mobile phones and laptops need components with computing power, some sort of connectivity, some system for data entry and a display system but the form factors are obviously quite different. Phones focus more on the portability aspect, while laptops tend to focus more on the productivity side of things. That means, of course, that laptops have larger displays and keyboards,and are bit more on the "luggable" side than pocket-sized.
But improving the productivity part of the equation is the challenge. That's part of the reason efforts are under way - this includes ideas like laser keyboards and foldable displays - both of which have been talked about for a while, but are finally reaching the point where they aren't so far out of reach.

Mike adds, "This may seem like a "threat" for laptop makers, efforts are on to continually shrink the overall size of the laptop, without destroying its ability to be a productive work tool. Since the basic components are all the same, the laptop providers can take the same approach, just coming from the other direction? If they detach the screens and the keyboards, shrink the process and the hard drive, keep the wireless connectivity and sell the input mechanism and display as portable add-ons as well. Since they come from the PC world, there's also less difficulty in needing to be tied to a particular network type. Laptop makers could make these new devices with a variety of wireless radios (or, perhaps, software defined radio, to make it adjustable). Corporate buyers tend to already have stronger relationships with PC makers than handset makers". He brilliantly concludes,"If things do move towards this world where the components separate and shrink, in order to make them more portable, but still productive, defining the devices as "phones" or "laptops" will no longer make sense. If either side wants to really take over this market, in fact, they're probably better off thinking about things with a clean slate. It's not about how to make a phone competitive with a laptop, or shrinking a laptop to make it competitive with the phone - but figuring out what combination of portability and productivity makes the most sense for users, no matter what the device is called. The key would be to figure out the best combination of portability and productivity that can be achieved with the technology available".

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