Mobility vs. laptops, once again

Let me continue a bit on this subject once more... Well, quite a few people have come out saying that they want to have "good bandwidth, better screens and proper keyboards" on their mobile phones. What they don't really want is not a better cell phone, they want a better laptop that is smaller than what they already are carrying.

I think this is just because that's something they are used to. When you grow with laptops and computers and the internet, you start to think of everything in those terms. You could jokingly say that once you learn how to use a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.

There are nearly two billion cell phone users out there. And a huge number of people in Japan (well, maybe not Japan), China, Korea, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Africa are growing with cell phones. Once they get their bearings together, they will be viewing the internet as a nail to bang with the mobile hammer. They'll be wanting things on their computers that work like their mobile phones...

If you're now thinking about your cell phone as an inferior laptop - try looking it another way: maybe your laptop is an inferior, bulky version of your cell phone. It might be interesting for a while, especially if you're planning to develop for the fabled Web 2.0 ;-)




Comments

...They'll be wanting things on their computers that work like their mobile phones...

...maybe your laptop is an inferior, bulky version of your cell phone...

Now that's the mobile tail wagging the Web dog!

--charlie, 09-Sep-2005


I once dissed Euan Semple in IM ,calling his powerbook a 'dinosaur phone' ;-) http://doc.weblogs.com/2005/05/21

--192.100.124.218, 09-Sep-2005


In the beginning there were desk computers and desk phones and the masses were pleased.

Then there was luggable computers (Osborne / Kaypro) and luggable phones (early bag phones) and the masses were excited.

Both soon became smaller and the masses could stand upright again while carrying both.

Then they both became small enough to carry in each hand and the masses went wild and bought many.

My problem is that I look like the Frito Bandito wearing my bandoleer with a PDA, Cell Phone, iPod and a few pens. I like what each device can do, and I want them smashed together into one item that I can carry around easily. There has been a huge convergence between media (TV and Music), communications and computers. I want the convergence to continue. I'm quite happy to sign up for the implant that wires my brain to the outside world so I can think "Talk Janne" and his phone rings and I can talk (or think to him). But until then, I want the best of all my current tools, rolled into one.

Oh and by the way, can I get a beer dispenser on it too?

--Foster, 09-Sep-2005


Put a cell phone with blue tooth on a card that can be put in a laptop. Then your laptop is your phone.

--Jim, 09-Sep-2005


...but putting my laptop in my pocket when I'm going out to town is not exactly a good user experience.

There are certain things that characterize the hardware: a cell phone needs to be such that you can hold it in one hand. A cell phone needs to fit in your pocket (though with the Nokia Communicators, the definition of "pocket" is quite flexible). A laptop needs a good keyboard, because it's main purpose is to produce text. A mobile phone is optimized for voice.

There are certain compromises you probably don't want to do - and for all its worth, this "laptop-mobile phone convergence" is really just a buzzword for geeks. Few non-geeks want to have such devices, just like very few people want to buy race cars.

--JanneJalkanen, 10-Sep-2005


Many people talk about the phone becoming your wallet, your keys, etc. I'm not sure that's the right analogy. I want my "phone" to be my backpack or purse and everything in it: phone, wallet, keys, camera, guidebook, MP3 player, GPS and maps, etc. But keep the laptop separate - it's purpose is for doing work and things that require a large screen. Right now the PC is absorbing many of the functions that should be in the "phone" simply because it is a relatively open platform. Once the "phone" integrates all of the functions above a computer can go back to being what it was supposed to be: a computer.

--Joel, 10-Sep-2005


Well said, Joel. The question is - how do we make the mobile phone a more open platform?

--JanneJalkanen, 11-Sep-2005


An excellent question. In my opinion, Microsoft won the computer platform war against Apple by making it easy to program for. Sure, Apple had a great user interface about a decade before Microsoft got close, but it wasn't as friendly to developers. The mobile phone platform has traditionally been closed but this was also driven by the fact, in my opinion, that the phone was, well, a just phone. Who writes new programs for the telephone?

It seems to me that platforms capable of supporting multiple functions will have rich source of applications when the platform is "open" for developers. If not, you get whatever the cell phone manufacturer gives you. Consumer choice is limited to which phone to buy and not just picking a phone platform and then loading your own favorite software.

The problem I see is that while this may happen in some cases, in general phones platforms are closed for good reason: consumers actually want them to work and be reliable. If I want to store money in my phone I want that application to be bulletproof. I certainly don't want to risk my money on some shareware code I found on the 'net.

The main issue, however, is that in order for a phone platform to be truly open, it needs open APIs for common functionality and these APIs have to exist for many generations of phones so that developers will be encouraged to write for a platform and consumers will feel comfortable that they can buy software and use it for years to come. Unless cell phone manufacturers take the step to open their platforms in this way, they won't really become open except in a nitch sort of way.

On the developer side, phones have a problem that PCs don't: an ever changing hardware platform. Today's platform may be an ARM7, tomorrow's a ARM9, and the next who knows. Object code for one platform may not run on the next. This places a burden on the software developer to support many platforms. Also, phone platforms are also resource constrained to keep costs down. A PC, on the other hand, ships with much of the memory unallocated and for use by the consumer.

I don't think I answered your question, but I've delayed my dinner long enough :)

--Joel, 11-Sep-2005


Q.how do we make the mobile phone a more open platform?

Think Lego.. the ability to create using basic blocks(software and hardware)... combine this with open interface standards(think bluetooth, USB2.0, Wi-Fi, IR)...

Then you will see the answer!Because trying to predict what people will want in a device is near impossible, the same way it is with a desktop!

)

--Hephail, 14-Sep-2005


On the other hand, quite a few people give up Lego when they grow up. Most people just want to have a phone that does a few simple things but does them well. They buy phones because their aim is to talk to their spouse while he's away, or something very simple but important. Just to connect to other people. How do you sell apps to them?

--JanneJalkanen, 15-Sep-2005


That is my point. Keep a phone good at doing what it does best... Connecting people. And expand this point of view to ...Connecting devices which these people use.

I wrote this article about why a phone will never replace a gaming device, digital camera etc. So think instead, of a device which is interfaceable with all the various devices which one uses (btw, ur N91 is something on that line, with support for a typical audio jack and USB 2.0). I mean, memory is not a problem anymore with phones reaching 5GB capacity. The question is, what do you do with the data which is present. Scenario: You get off from work, enter the car, attach it to the stereo system, and play the music you like. You take it home, attach it to your TV, and directly play the movie which you had bought on an memory(say SD) card. Then you are travelling, and find out that your digital camera has run out of memory. You take out the card(say SD), plug it into your mobile, and download all the pics onto the phone.Then you continue clicking.

How do you sell apps to them? The answer to this is simple. Keep a fully open software platform (like Linux)where users may choose and put what applications they want. I mean, why do I have to keep checking whether an application is a Symbian or Windows Mobile application?

--Hephail, 17-Sep-2005


Well, you could always use Java, but... I guess that from the point of an user a system is not open, if you need to check what kind of a Java app you need to install on what kind of a device. It's not uncommon to see long, long compatibility lists for a Java game ("Download Xyzzy! Works with Nokia 1234,2347, 3943, 23432, 24932, 43211123, 43242, 1245435, 64365437, 7654, 8756, 4356, 432, 43543, 3.1415, 4932, 4392, 5948, 7706, 7958, and 6584). That's not exactly transparent from an user's point of view.

--JanneJalkanen, 17-Sep-2005


hehe! Exactly my point! at least on the desktop, every application is available in Windows, Mac or Linux! But on the mobile, developers are constantly trying to figure out which will be the most popular mobile, forget about the most popular platform. p.s. nice to see Pi as a possible model :P

--Hephail, 19-Sep-2005


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