Mobile technology has taken two interesting turns in the last few years. Cellphones, PDAs, and computers have started to merge so that today’s smartphones allow you to surf the web, send email, and oh yeah, make phone calls and send text messages. Over the last year cheap computers called netbooks (or mini-laptops, or something) with full sized keyboards and reasonably large screens have also appeared which provide a more full fledged internet experience on the go.
If you ask me, smartphones and netbooks serve two different purposes. A smartphone fits in your pocket and provides a stripped down internet experience. A netbook may be too big for your pocket, but since most netbooks weigh less than 3 pounds you can easily throw one in your bag and carry it with you for those times when you need to do some work on a nearly full-sized QWERTY keyboard on the go, or when you want to view web pages, videos, or other content on a roomier 7, 9, or 10 inch display. Heck, you can even make VoIP phone calls using Skype if you really want to, but I wouldn’t really expect a netbook to replace a good cellphone.
RIM founder Mike Lazaridis, on the other hand, seems to think that a smartphone can be a replacement for a netbook. In an interview with CNET Asia, Lazaridis said he’s not worried about competition from netbooks because the new BlackBerry Storm is a netbook. Umm… OK.
I can understand why he might say that. The Storm does provide a mobile internet experience, and no CEO wants to say “yes, I’m afraid of the competition from other devices that offer more features.” But a better answer might have been “no, because netbooks don’t fit in your pocket and don’t feature always-on technology like a phone. They serve a different market than smartphones like the Storm.” But maybe that’s just me.