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Laptops vs tablets. My baby didn’t care for touch and apps.

At just 8 months old my son made the right choice for us. He chose ‘laptop’ and pushed the tablet to one side. Why? They’re better of course.

It’s a video that I just have to re-post here in 2017 when we’re all getting distracted and, to be honest, bogged-down by the tablet touchscreen. We’re getting lazier and less efficient. Here I am sitting on my bum in front of a laptop and I’m doing real work rather than messing around with Candy, sending smiley faces to ‘friends’ or getting involved with digital activism.

Really, this boy is telling you how to GET THINGS DONE. Real work. Like this post. ;-)

ARM can’t fix the Windows 10 mobile problem. It will make a great Surface Pad though.

Windows’ mobile problem is well know. Apps. Will an alternative processor architecture help? It’s great to see ARM in the space, but it won’t fix the problem.

There are two mobile-related Windows problems. The first is the close-down of the Lumia brand. It was the first big indicator that the Universal Windows Program wasn’t attracting the developer hours that were so badly needed. They were needed to bring Windows, and not just Windows Mobile, to a point where Win32 / desktop apps could be ignored in favour of mobile apps. Under UWP I would argue that apps are more user-friendly, cheaper to develop, more secure and more efficient. Ultimately there would have been a mobile-first scenario similar to that which we see on IOS and Android in the IoT, personal mobility, remote control and social network sectors but with the introduction of an ARM platform, fitting into the 6-inch to 12 inch space, that supports legacy desktop apps, it’s now 100% clear that UWP failed to achieve its goals quickly enough. Intel pulled the plug on the space and, laughably, Qualcomm is stepping in with a top-end processor platform that won’t do anything to help. Microsoft needs millions of mobile devices out there running Windows 10. What on earth are they thinking? While Windows 10, Snapdragon 830 and a Surface Phone could be a match made in heaven, it WILL NOT HELP.

 

The cheapest way to build Windows 10 numbers in the mobile space would have been to subsidise the sale of Windows phones and tablets but with Intel and Lumia gone it seems Microsoft want to put a high-end mobile device in this vastly competitive and saturated space. A Surface Phone, a Surface Pad, a Surface UMPC isn’t going to help.

A Snapdragon 835 will not result in low-cost phones and ‘multimode’ doesn’t sell.

Snapdragon 835 is high-end. It is perfect for a Surface Phone at 6-inches that will lever integration skills and demonstrate, perfectly, the capabilities of Continuum and multimode dockable usage but expect that to be an $800 product. It will be as fast as a Core M and  extremely interesting for ultra-mobile users. Tight integration will make a very smart-looking device but it will have to compete with the iPad Pro, iPhone, Pixel devices, Galaxy brand and a bunch of cheaper, but very good phablets. It will compete with some very good Intel-based Core M devices that can handle, without software emulation or binary translation, full HD videos editing, advanced photo editing, basic CAD and entry-level PC gaming. In short, it will end up being a desirable but niche and expensive product.

The second problem is that ‘multimode’ doesn’t sell devices.

We love them, as do the press but the Motorola Atrix (2011), Lumia 950 (2015) and other devices have proven that selling multimode is hard work. When was the last time you saw a mainstream user using Miracast and a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse?

Established electronics manufacturers don’t like them either. No one is going to build a multimode phone that potentially trashes the profitable sectors of laptops, tablets, 2-in-1s and desktops. The only manufacturers that have space to do this are the startups. Microsoft have space too. Consider the Surface Pro 4 at $1000 and the Surface Book at $2000. A Surface Phone (Surface Pad at 6 inches) would fit in at $599-$899 and it could replace the old Atom based Surface products nicely. Would Microsoft be stepping on the toes of its partners by doing this? It would shock the hell out of them.

 

Does a high-end device solve the app problem? Do Windows-based mobile devices become more interesting? No they don’t

What, then, is the point?

UMPC 2017 by GraalPhone is a touch of 2006

Welcome to 2017? This mini PC by GraalPhone reminds us of 2006!

GraalPhone Concept

The idea of a multi-mode mobile PC is far from new but GraalPhone is taking a shot at building something that’s not only multi-mode but also multi-OS system. It’s something we would have been very excited about 10 years ago but given the number of failures in this multimode mobile PC market over the last 10 years it’s hard to get excited now. Having said that, we must now consider the smartphone-as-a-core option.

This ‘4 in 1’ design uses the smartphone as the core processing unit and the docking unit takes the form of a mini PC with keyboard and folding screen that allows mini laptop and tablet modes. Obviously the docking design could take multiple forms. The GraalPhone UMPC is at the concept stage and we suspect they’re at CES (thanks Brad) to find partners and funding. Anything and everything could change and even if GraalPhone are successful in finding a partner it’s going to take a year to get this to market.

GraalPhone Concept

Windows 10 with a Snapdragon 835 would be the obvious choice for this product. Continuum was created for these cross-over designs but as we know, Windows 10 isn’t exactly the consumers or the manufacturers first-choice in the mobile market. An Android / Chrome OS fusion could be interesting but GraalPhone are talking about a Windows / Android combination. That could be a recipe for failure if previous attempts are anything to go by.

With smartphone performance as it is, way ahead of entry-level Windows tablets and PCs, the only way forward is to consider the smartphone as the core processing and communications unit. Google and Android / Chrome OS have the best positioning for this although if Microsoft could get more traction in the Store, Windows 10 is designed from the ground-up for this. The question is, when companies can sell us a smartphone, tablet and laptop separately why would they combine it into one? It only means disruptive profit loss. Maybe there’s a chance here for a new startup.

The design reminds me of something we saw 8 years ago in a design study found on the OQO forums. The OQO itself wasn’t much different in outward-looking design. Looking back over ten years ago we also find the HDPCaka ‘the ugly sofa.’

 

Concept design from 2009

 

HDPC from 2006

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