Mobility

iPhone making laptops obsolete in the enterprise?


Given all the hype regarding the iPhone and the other next-generation handheld mobile devices lately, one would think that the days of the laptop are numbered. However, I tend to disagree and perhaps my disagreement has to do with my age -- you can decide.

I have handled a number of handheld mobile devices and while they all offer some pretty cool features I find them lacking when it comes to doing real work. I currently carry a BlackBerry (not by choice - I would choose a different handheld) and while I find it very handy for reading e-mail and corresponding in short sentences, I certainly would not want to compose the Gettysburg Address on it. Frankly, my fingers are not dexterous enough to press keypad buttons at the speed that I type.

I also find Web browsing on it or similar devices to be less than satisfying. Again, it serves the purpose in a pinch while on the road or off site, but I like a bigger picture than what I get from a handheld mobile device. I'm not in bifocals yet; however, I don't look forward to tiny displays when I finally get there.

This is not to say that I am anti-handhelds, and I certainly want  laptops to continue to "think thin," but for real work on the road, I still find a laptop hard to beat. Of course, this is coming from a person who thinks playing first person shooters using a game pad is lame, and I roll my eyes when people get excited because they can play Ms. Pac-Man on their handheld -- whoopee!

So perhaps I am jaded and not "with it." I would be more excited if Sony announced that their UX390N had a faster processor, more memory capacity, and a lower price tag than I would be about new iPhone or Motorolla Q  features.

The Micro PC to me is a much more useable device than a handheld and has the potential for more real "work." I can see myself at a meeting taking notes on the UX390N using a Bluetooth keyboard or even its own keyboard (I have used a UX280P). I can see myself working on a spreadsheet at dinner while on the road with a Micro PC or creating a PowerPoint presentation, but not with a handheld -- even if the handheld is running full blown Windows and Office.

So what keeps me from doing it? Price. I can't justify the price for a Micro PC when I can take the same money and buy a very nice laptop -- one capable of running more than Ms. Pac-Man when I have time for entertainment and one that I can actually "work" on when I need to do so.

Or perhaps I am mixing apples and oranges (no pun intended), and I should not compare an oversized phone to a laptop? They were designed for two different things were they not? Yet there is no denying that there is a certain convergence happening in the mobile computing space. So am I being shortsighted in not joining the iPhone bandwagon and hoping that Micro PCs or Tablet PCs get the attention they deserve, or should I believe that computing on a two-inch screen is the future and just suck it up?

In the short run, I do not see busy IT travelers leaving their laptops at home or the office if they are headed out of town to do some serious work. They will be packing both their handheld device AND their laptop. In the long run, however, one has to wonder if handheld devices are going to get larger or laptops are going to get smaller. I would like to carry one device that is the size of a Micro PC with its power, but at a price near that of a handheld. That would be an enterprise device worth standing in line for!

10 comments
jim
jim

Ramon, you make good points, and I agree that the value of a laptop is the ability to do real work anytime and any place. However, your choice of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as an example of the kind of real work you would not want to do on your PDA is arguably a poor one. At 269 words and taking about two minutes to deliver, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is among the most trenchant and memorable speeches ever made by a U.S. President. Certainly Lincoln could have dashed off his address on his PDA and had thumb strength to spare to IM Mary and Tad a Good Night wish. For more see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address Keep Up The Good Work, --Jim Salmons-- Jefferson County, Iowa

joeller
joeller

Not to mention he wrote it on the back of an envelope while riding on a primitive train with hardly any springs and no bumpers or air brakes. I don't think he would have regarded a handheld device as a handicap. Now Edward Everett Horton's two hour speech given on the same occasion ... ERJ

kjrubberducky
kjrubberducky

Lincoln did NOT write the speech on the back of an envelope. That is only one of many widely circulating Internet "facts" that a lot of people believe.

trutter
trutter

I an just imagine Lincoln with an iphone, and I know he would've been able to write the whole address on one of them. The "Q" and iphone fills in a lot of the words for you as you begin to type out the words, so it would be quicker than think. I own the Motorola "Q" as well as a laptop and you have to really put things in perspective with these little devices. Here's points to remember 1> Life is outside of the pc/smartphone/pocket pc 2> Laptops are portable pc's that lets you get a lot of work done in a shorter amount of time. 3> Smartphones/pocket pc's are designed to connect to laptops to synch information 4> Smartphones/pocket pc's are primarily retrieval devices with the ability to add/update, but mostly to retrieve. I do believe that down the road, we will be able to connect monitors and keyboards to these devices so we can make more use out of them. But, that's down the road. Right now, let's just use them for what they are and not complain about their limitations. These little phones/pocket pc's are not meant to replace pc's nor were they designed to. But, they can do a whole lot if we take advantage of them, and they can allow us to have information at our fingertips rather than toting around a laptop everywhere. What I would like to see is better connectivity from the pc standpoint. In otherwords, I would like to see very pc manufactured come standard with bluetooth so that they can talk back and forth. I would like to be at my work pc and be able to beam a contact to my smartphone, or a word document. In other words, would like to see bluetooth as the next "A" drive or the now "USB Drive".

bkamhi
bkamhi

I thought that Edward Everett Horton was the narrator for Fractured Fairy Tales on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show... You mean there was another Edward Everett Horton...but I digress. Sorry. I agree with Ramon.

ryan.rockey
ryan.rockey

1. Not enough screen real estate. In this day applications demand a minimum of 1024x768. There simply is not enough screen size on these micro devices. 2. Little or no compatibility with established pillars of business technology. - MS Office - Microsoft Networking (SMB) - Printing! (Can I get a hell-ya?) I'm sure there are many more to be added but that is enough to kill and laptop replacement and I've got to get back to work. I tote around a Pocket PC and a Laptop. I've been to meetings with only my Pocket PC and yes, I've taken notes on it, it's handy to have at all times. Still, the laptop is almost a perfect form factor. Many thought that he tablet would replace the conventional laptop but look who's still king.

veloso
veloso

We'll just have to keep on dreaming. If the elite companies out there decide to come up with a perfect one, then there goes all the hype of competition, marketing, and big bucks.

steven.auerbach
steven.auerbach

I don't have the budget for the ultra-micro PC and I already have a bluetooth enabled laptop with wireless lan. If I add a cell modem for my wireless carrier I think I have may have assembled the single-instrument road warrior toolkit. . . Wireless earpiece/microphone - check! Wi-fi for the airport or office - check! RJ-45 port for hard cable - check! All my apps at my fingertips - check! Mobi-key for thin client or a VPN to the office net - check! Alright, Number One. . . .Mr. Crusher, engage!

dinle
dinle

The best phone is iPhone. iPhone Servis

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