Personal handheld computers have already won

This week my associates and I had two different ‘pitch’ meetings with companies that were vastly different. One of the companies was a large electronics and appliance retailer primarily doing business in the New York DMA. While they do sell tablet computers they admitted to not being all-in when it comes to promoting those products. It was more of an accommodation to their customer’s wants and needs – or what they thought were those wants and needs. One of my associates made the point that in the long run tablets will lose out to what we still term ‘mobile phones’. He could not have been more right.

Calling handheld devices mobile phones is fast becoming a misnomer. Of the tasks people perform on their mobile phone my guess is that phone calls are near the bottom of the list. So calling them mobile phones is more of a legacy term than anything else. My trips to Asia have shown me for more than ten years that the handheld computer (that’s really what it is) is the be-all and end-all device. People in Asia do use tablets like the iPad and Android tablets but they are not convenient to carry around on the weekends or when people are not on their way to or from a meeting.

Tablets are the second hottest thing in technology right now. Worldwide the sale of handheld mobile devices crushes the sale of tablets. And handheld mobile devices are getting better and will continue to improve. A projectable keyboard would be a great place to start. This is also a problem when typing on tablets. Apparently these projectable keyboards are past the prototype stage but not yet ready for prime time.

I saw a statistic this week that more people today have access to a mobile phone than to clean water or the electrical grid http://bit.ly/xcvpqa. While that strikes me as being more than a bit sad, it is just another indication of what I see as the overall trend.

This week I went to see an associate of mine, Shaun Rein who just wrote a very interesting and well-written book called ‘The End of Cheap China’ http://amzn.to/KliLc6. Mr. Rein points out that living in China he recently met a young woman that has a salary of US $1200 per month. She had just plunked down US $1000 for an iPad. When he asked her how she did it she told him that she went without lunch for six months and saved in other areas.

Tablet computers are cool now but will never achieve the market penetration of personal handheld computers (I mean mobile phones). The screen is small and not ideal for reading anything long form but I suspect that there will be ways to increase the display area (how about screen projection?) so you would not need to carry anything but one device – your personal handheld mobile computer.

Am I dreaming? I hope not.

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver
This entry was posted in Best business practices, Customer Experiences, Innovation, Mobile Communication, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Personal handheld computers have already won

  1. tom says:

    No wallet, no watch, no money, no credit cards, no ID (driver’s license or passport for those internationally minded), no “phone”, no keys, no music player, no tv, etc, etc.
    Just that one little thing personal handheld computer thing!
    Don’t ever leave home without it.

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  2. Pete says:

    I think screen projection will be the critical capability to turn phones into our only computer. I think swype and other methods will make the keyboard less of an issue (I came to swype kicking and screaming but now am a big fan) but getting a full size screen will mean we can leave laptops and tablets at home while we are on the road. Just one opinion.

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  3. Mark, great piece. Tablets are consumption devices, not productivity devices. Portability is not the issue. You know I love my tablet, but I find I use it more often than my desktop computer at home for quickly checking email while watching TV, playing Words with Friends, watching videos, checking FB, all the things that are not as ideal on a ‘mobile phone’. The tablet is certainly more portable than a laptop and I’ve been known to leave my laptop home when I travel. I’ll carry both the tablet and the phone. I was surprised when the first iPad was released that phone was a functionality. Now that I have one I understand why. Just too clunky for that.

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    • markkolier says:

      Thanks David. I still feel improved handhelds will keep tablets at home where they will continue to be an important part of people’s everyday life. i think most people would prefer to not have to take either a tablet or a laptop with them if they could.

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