Mobile
Commentary
7/10/2009
05:07 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Dell To Launch Android Based Web Device

At some point Dell will actually launch another mobile device after having discontinued its line of Windows Mobile based Axim's a few years ago. While there have been rumors of it being a phone, it may actually be an internet device running Android.

At some point Dell will actually launch another mobile device after having discontinued its line of Windows Mobile based Axim's a few years ago. While there have been rumors of it being a phone, it may actually be an internet device running Android.The Wall Street Journal indicated that the prototypes that have been seen are just a little bit bigger than the iPod Touch from Apple. It falls into a category of devices called mobile internet devices, which fill a gap between smartphones and computers.

Personally, I think this is a category looking for a purpose rather than fulfilling an actual need by consumers. A device like this could be a big deal in companies where only modest computing power is necessary to access corporate info, such as on the manufacturing floor or in a warehouse, but I've not seen much need today for such a device in the home.

They require a WiFi connection as they don't have cellular radios, and quite frankly, if anyone wants a device like this, they can get an iPod Touch from Amazon for $275. This will give them WiFi access to the internet as well as their iTunes library.

Companies seem desperate to provide some sort of internet only device to the public, but the public isn't clamoring for this. Last year, netbooks were launched with Linux on them and the idea was, consumers didn't care about apps. They wanted to check email and browse the web on these devices. The reality is, once people figured out they couldn't install their favorite apps on them, the Linux netbooks were returned for devices running Windows XP.

So now the idea is to make the device smaller, with no keyboard, and then the consumer will check email and browse the web. I disagree. Either the consumer wants a device like the iPod Touch, which is primarily a music player but with the ability to install applications and go online, or they want a mobile computing experience, and that means replicating a lot of features from their home PC to a mobile device. Or, they will to go all of the way to a pure smartphone. There is no middle ground. In fact, this device isn't really between a computer and a smartphone. It is between a smartbook and a smartphone. A smartbook is a new class of device that is between a netbook and a smartphone. Do we have enough divisions yet? Just what exactly is it that people do that they need to decide is a computer, a netbook, a smartbook, a mobile internet device, or a smartphone is best suited for a particular task? I consider myself a geek that sometimes owns a device just to own a device, but even I don't want that much granularity available in my decision process.

Dell may or may not launch this device. They could just be playing around with the concept and kill it before it sees the light of day. I think they should kill it and get back to the phone development.

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