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October 28, 2008

Just where is mobile computing headed?

GLOBAL – Nseries handsets have often been referred to by Nokia as multimedia computers, but we all know there still remains a line (though fading fast) between smartphones and portable connected computers, or netbooks, or whatever you want to call them. Is it now a question of when that line will disappear, or can it ever really vanish? In reality do we even need device clarity and categorisation?

Speaking at the Symbian Smartphone Show last week, executive vice president of devices at Nokia, Kai Oistamo, scrapped his presentation’s original title, “The future of smart phones”, and spoke instead on “The future of computers”. Irrelevant? Not at all. As Oistamo said, “it is time to recognize that what we have in our hands today are not smart phones but full-fledged computers.” Erasers at the ready!

“This is the hot spot for innovation and Nokia has been the pioneer of creating these kinds of devices… We’re at the heart of the Internet revolution… These things are computers, and on computers it is about the wealth of applications.”

As smartphones become ever more powerful, capable of playing or even streaming video from a remote location, rendering 3D stunning graphics for games, taking brilliantly detailed photographs, shooting home movies, connecting over-the-air to the Internet at broadband speeds, and touchscreen technology matures, the cobwebbed buzzword ‘convergence’ feels slightly irrelevant as this is no longer what many expect… they demand it. Does it all come crashing back to Earth with the size of your pocket, and is that where we draw the line? I’m not sure it’s as simple as that anymore, although many would argue that simple physical constraint could be the lowest common denominator when thinking about smartphones and mobile computing. What do you think?

Do we need to draw lines in the sand between mobile devices and portable computers? Should Nokia step across that line and into new realms? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Photo from anikarenina