Friday, October 13, 2006

"Laptop" of the Future

Being an avid user of laptop computers and "smartphones", I have come to the conclusion that the technologies will soon merge.

A "smartphone" is a mobile phone with PDA capabilities. Smartphones have become so advanced that they perform many of the same functions as laptop computers. Phones that run the Windows Mobile operating system, for example, run Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, connect to wi-fi hotspots, play music and video, and run many other applications.

The only things that separate smartphones from laptop computers are
  • Screen size
  • Storage capacity
  • Keyboard
I predict the laptop computer of the future will be a mobile phone to which you can attach a portable but external high-resolution monitor and full QWERTY keyboard.


Brandon said...

Hmm... Someone posted a link about how "product categories tend to diverge." Who was that :)

Personally, I think size keeps these products for merging. Maybe a new product will come out that lets you doc you smartphone into a large form factor when you have extra space... Who knows.

Roger L. Cauvin said...

Good catch, Brandon. But I think this case is an example of the distinction between convergence of technology versus convergence of categories.

A product category exists in the mind. Technologies can converge without the product categories converging. In other words, marketing this product as a combination laptop/phone will not be effective. Companies will have to choose either one (laptop), the other (phone), or create a new category.

Nils said...

This is something I've thought about a bit - but I wonder what you see/envision as the nature of the "external high resolution monitor" and full-size qwerty keyboard?

I mean, do you actually think those will arrive (and become successful in the converged world) with anything like their current form factors? If not, what kind of form factor do you imagine we'll be seeing?

Roger L. Cauvin said...

Nils, I think you raise a good point about keyboards and monitors taking a different, more portable, shape in the future. I urge readers to check out the entry on your blog for more details.

I do think, however, that part of the key to the obsolescence of the traditional laptop computer will be the ability to attach standard keyboards and monitors to phones, even if more portable versions of these peripherals begin to take hold.