The "Apple" and Stick Routine
Not to validate what I believe to be a ridiculous cult of Apple rumor mongers by discussing them in my blog, but this year's lead-up to CES had many rumor blogs speculating about a Verizon iPhone launch. No offense, but I've been hearing this rumor since June 29, 2007. The rumor machine, however, might make me eat my words at tomorrow's Verizon press conference.
Apple has never participated in CES, but in its own way, has found a means of being a significant participant through discussion alone (case in point: my CES blog has a section dedicated to Apple today). This year's Apple discussions, when not dominated by Verizon speculation, were focused on Thursday's launch of the Mac App Store. In the same way that Microsoft's Xbox Live service has revolutionized the distribution of gaming software and downloadable content, the Mac App Store has launched to great praise. Apple's mobile App Store created a race to the $0.99 pricing-point bottom, and fear of such rapid pricing decline for higher level software has been raised. However, Xbox Live did not create a decline in gaming pricing points, and the significant volume of more-than-$0.99-paid mobile Apple Apps has proven that customers are still willing to pay for quality. I've had several discussions that have provided anecdotal evidence for both sides of the argument, but add the topic of "cheapskate" consumer to my ever-expanding list of need-to-write topics.
(Mobile) Power to the People
The possibility of a Verizon iPhone is a perfect opening to today's blog, as I want to focus on the incredible new mobile options that were demonstrated at CES. Having formerly worked in the technology-investment space, and being a continued participant in the market, I have had multiple conversations focused on the day when mobile phones become the only computer for some consumers. This discussion has been fueled by the incredible compute power that most mobile phones contain: 2+Ghz processors, 500+Mb RAM, multiple-Gb embedded flash memory, plus the ability to expand storage through microSD.
Enter the Motorola Atrix .
Built on NVIDIA's Tegra2, and driven by Android, the Atrix touts a 1Ghz processor, over 1Gb of RAM, 16GB embedded storage with 32GB microSD expansion and almost nine hours of talk time.
So far, this sounds like almost every phone coming to the market. Except...the Atrix has an HDMI dock and laptop accessory options. When the phone is docked or placed into the laptop, the phone converts to a computer-interface on-screen, with Bluetooth keyboard and mouse compatibility. Additionally, because the phone is driving the laptop, the laptop itself is as thin as the iPad and contains only an additional battery.
Combining this device with Microsoft's announcement regarding next-generation Windows compatibility on non-Intel architecture is truly an evolutionary step in computing.
Think of the possibilities! Netbooks were introduced as a low-power computing device for consumers only needing basic functionality and features. They thrived, however, mainly as a second device for road warriors because of small keyboards and limited media capabilities. Devices like the Atrix, however, are in my opinion Netbooks version 2.0 - the device netbook developers thought netbooks would become. The compute power is strong enough - combined with a dock - to output HDMI to a monitor or television, while providing the laptop accessory and Bluetooth input-device capabilities when more robust input features are needed.
Millions of global consumers have their first Internet experience through their mobile device. Introducing a device that essentially doubles as the "guts" for laptop and desktop computer options - and eventually a device powered by next-generation Windows - will significantly change the number of computer users. More important, it will significantly change the number of computer users globally.