PC Mag’s Michael Miller Almost Gets It With UMPCs

PC Magazine’s Michael Miller in his Forward Thinking column every now and then comes closer to getting the mobility advantages that Ultra-Mobile PCs offer. Once again, he does just that. Close, but no cigar. (Actually, I think he does see the potential, but can’t bring himself to admit it. It is tough to buck conventional wisdom, when you carry the standard of conventional wisdom.) He talks about the potential advantages of, and the excitement generated by the OQO Model 02, the Flipstart, the Nokia N800, and others, on his way to taking a look at the new Samsung Q1 Ultra. What’s intriguing is that he sees the potential, but can’t quite bring himself around to admitting that these could, for some folks, be mainstream devices. Although he admits: “I can imagine the markets for such machines growing in years to come”, which is a bit of a change. In his first writings about the UMPC he couldn’t figure out what the markets for these devices would be, but to be fair, I don’t think Microsoft or Intel had it figured out either. 

Look at this paragraph:


Still, I don’t see these as mainstream devices, at least not in their current configurations.  While they fit in a coat pocket, they are too big for people to carry them as a replacement for a phone (and too small to be a replacement for someone who really wants a notebook to create documents on). But in an environment that’s heavy on looking up data and filling out forms where weight matters, just a device may work better than a phone, a notebook, or even a tablet PC. Think of applications like health care or traveling sales.       

I’ll quibble with the “too small to create documents” comment (I’m blogging this on the Asus R2H at the moment) but look later in the excerpt when he talks about environments heavy on looking up and entering data. Michael, you get it. You just need to spend a little more time with these devices, and a lot less with press releases and ill-conceived marketing pitches, to really think forward about that potential.