Mobile Gadgets may Beat Both Phones, Netbooks

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Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) may supplant both smartphones, such as Apple's iPhone, and netbooks, such as the Asus Eee PC, according to a survey of US consumers released last week.

netbook, handheld, blackberry
Artwork: Chip Taylor
In November 2008 ABI Research carried out a survey of more than 1,000 adult US consumers, aimed at identifying their attitudes to netbooks and Mobile Internet Devices.

The research, "Consumer Impressions of Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)", suggests that some people will value a separate device with a bigger screen for the web browsing, that they can choose when to carry. The more interesting promise offered by MIDs without cellular voice will be their repackaging in the form of specialized Internet-connected CE devices such as media players or personal navigation devices.

MIDs have been proposed by some as mobile phone replacements. Does the public agree? In this survey, almost half did, lending support to new MIDs incorporating voice capabilities. 34 percent said they would continue to use a standard mobile handset.

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"This is going to become a question for MID vendors and consumers alike," says Philip Solis, principal analyst at ABI Research. "There will be little difference between a smartphone such as the Palm Pre which uses an OMAP 3 processor and a MID with cellular voice, except for screen size. Understanding of what consumers want from stand-alone MIDs without cellular voice will be important."

Intel announced a prototype MID at the Intel Developer Forum in Spring 2007 in Beijing. A Moorestown model contains a 45nm Intel Atom processor (codenamed Lincroft).

This links to rumours Tuesday of an MID patent from iPhone and Mac maker Apple. Ubergizmo reveals a patent application leak from Apple that shows off a "DISPLAY HOUSING FOR COMPUTING DEVICE" that it reckons "looks pretty much like a touchscreen tablet complete with the familiar Apple logo behind".

There's also a worrying touch of Apple's 1998's Wall Street PowerBook G3 styling to bother the astute Apple patent watcher.

This story, "Mobile Gadgets may Beat Both Phones, Netbooks" was originally published by PC Advisor (UK).

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