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HardwareUMPCWho killed the UMPC?

Who killed the UMPC?

In classic whodunit form, Wired magazine lists five devices that cellphones have been killing. Included in the list is the UMPC:

“The Ultra Mobile PC was a failed experiment, although once in while a company will drag the rotting corpse from its comfortable grave, slap on a bit of makeup and try to sell the idea again. The reason? Cellphones. Think about it: The UMPC was a full-fledged computer crammed into a tiny box with an impossible-to-use keyboard, with pathetic battery life and a hilariously high price tag. The phone, in contrast, offers an operating system and interface designed for the modest hardware on which it will run. It’s cheap, and the battery lasts for days.”

If you ask me, the high price tags on UMPCs were more indicative of a suicide than death by cellphone, but I appreciate the author’s point. UMPCs–and I’d add MIDs even–have been trumped by devices like the iPhone.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t value in these bigger brothers. I’d really like a larger screened device than the iPhone for around the house. I’d buy one. And if the price was right I’d buy two.

And I also think the author oversteps by signalling the death of cameras. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that camera-equipped cellphones have brought lots of new opportunities for point and shoot, however, there’s still a huge opportunity for higher grade cameras.

In fact, I’ve gone around telling all the hardware folks I know that I think someone needs to look at cameras like Apple as looked at cellphones. The lesson of the iPhone is good here. I’m convinced a well thought out camera, with a good OS, good connectivity, and good software would create a great product. Think beyond an SLR or digital video camera. Think in terms of a camera that knows more about where it is, designed for tagging and interpretation, as well as taking good pictures. There’s lots of opportunity for smart cameras. I’d carry one to every event I’d attend if there was something like it.

Finally, it’s important to realize when reading pieces like this, that all devices are part of an evolutionary stream. Nothing is going to last forever–or at least most things won’t. I’d go so far to say that the cellphones of today are going to be trumped by alternative devices down the road. The good part of this? Some day Wired can write an article about some new device that’s killed the cellphone. Can’t wait.

[Link found via TabletPCTalk.com]
Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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[…] gadgets that were killed by the cellphone.  (Via Loren Heiny) Posted in umpc […]