The SmartPhone UMPC Desktop
We have been talking about people leaving their laptops at home and living off their Blackberries for some time. A small minority of people actually do this and RIM, the parent of the Blackberry, is doing very well as a result.
On the phone side folks typically keep them for two years. If you factored in the subsidy, they pay almost as much for the hardware as they do for a PC over the two years they have the product, and it is vastly less expensive to support. In addition you get the OS with the hardware. And you could argue, based on numbers in large enterprises, that RIM has been more successful there than both Apple and all of the Linux distros have been on the desktop combined.
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Thing is, most of us cant live off a Blackberry. But that is because the Blackberry starts out being a super PDA. It wasnt until the iPhone shipped that we got a chance to see what was possible in a fully featured phone with a near complete browser.
With most of the solutions above you need a connection and the ability to work disconnected is non-existent. But todays smart phone can cache their work and, while limited in their disconnected state, they are increasingly able to run ever more capable browsers, allowing them to connect back to centralized services for a more complete desktop solution.
While initially this would likely lend itself more to a one of the HP back end products, Dell could, with an intermediate hosted server, provide similar capability if they so chose. HP actually has a smart phone line but, as of this writing, they havent looped it in to any of these solutions, though they certainly could relatively quickly.
Intel is developing their UMPC platform, which could close this gap sharply, but the most compelling devices arent due until next year. The closest thing in market right now to a cell phone that could be used as a laptop replacement is the HTC x7501. Thats what I currently carry and I can almost leave my laptop at home. Its an amazing device.
This would close the last gap on all of these solutions and give you a mobile appliance to carry, tied to a secure back end service that could be more easily updated and managed. Finally we would have a blended solution that would work whether you are stationary or mobile.
Next page: Virtualization, and Into the Future...