There’s a growing discussiontaking place over at jkOnTheRun after James Kendrick voiced his concerns with the way the ultra-mobile sector is progressing and laid out his must-haves for a successful companion device. So why the relevence to MY iTablet? Well, James’ conclusion is that it’s up to Apple to produce this mythical PDA-cum-UMPC-cum-perfection, since they’re the only major company with control over both the hardware and software.
It’s a common theme, in that sense, but the argument is laid out well and particularly weighted to this sector of device. As James describes, user expectations of an ultra-portable are far greater than for perhaps any other type of computer – delays in responsiveness that most will simply put up with sat at their desk are a decided deal-breaker when you want to quickly check your email while in a queue at the store.
“Handheld computers must be rock-solid stable through the work day and the only way for a company to produce such a device is to control all parts of the design, including hardware, operating system, applications and specifications. That’s a pretty big limiting factor. Why am I so sure that the OS needs to be embedded? That’s because a real handheld PC needs to be instant-on in the field. Standby and resume schemes that are used currently are just not good enough to provide the usage experience that is needed in a handheld PC”James Kendrick, jkOnTheRun
As you might expect, when it comes to comparing Apple and Windows (with some Linux in there for good measure) sides are pretty clearly drawn in the sand, but it all seems to be pretty restrained and not descending into fanboyism yet. Some have suggested that the iPhone is just the sort of managed ecosystem that James is describing – or at least the embryonic form of it – while others have criticised the device for being closed and too limited and Apple themselves as being too concerned with guaranteed market success to branch into a niche market segment that could eventually cannibalise the MacBook range.
I’m interested in hearing your views on what you want a companion device to do, and what form you’d like it to take. There are undoubtedly some of you who view the iPhone as Apple’s first – perhaps fledgling – return to the PDA market, while others perceive it as an extension of the cellphone market. Are you looking forward to something smaller or larger, something more powerful – and flexible – or something that further refines the OS X experience to a true (perhaps “traditional”) cellphone form factor. Let me know in the comments.