News from Qualcomm today that they’re working on a platform for a new class of devices called “smartbooks”. Think of the best attributes of a phone, such as instant on, always connected and the best parts of netbook hardware like 10” screens and larger keyboards. No word on OS, other than it *won’t* run Windows so it’s too early to call success or failure without at least seeing some hardware doing something. I will say it’s an uphill battle.
I’ve talked a lot in the past about how hard it is for ‘tweener devices to sell in the market. It’s been tried a lot of times before and nearly every product that’s straddled the line between phone and laptop failed.
Mobile devices are following two contradictory trajectories. One class is fragmenting in terms of core functions, creating new markets for stand-alone devices such as dedicated cameras and media players. The other, which includes such devices as smartphones and mobile Internet devices, is taking on new features and functions, rivaling stand-alone devices in terms of functionality through convergence. Neither approach is universally correct, and vendors more than ever need to understand the contextual factors that influence consumer device usage. They have to focus on providing the sorts of core features that will lead users to include these devices among the three that they’re willing to carry.
Devices that can’t displace one of those three will simply not be purchased.