Is That an Internet in your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to Have a Keyboard?

PDC2008 is underway and the first thing unveiled was Microsoft’s Cloud OS, Azure, not Windows 7. So, unless you can’t take a hint, all bets are looking skyward. But how do we really want to work (and play) in the Cloud? Small handheld? MID? Notebook? Keyboard or Touch? Both?

In the run up to the rollout there have been a couple of articles that have caught my eye about the devices that we use to work in the Cloud. The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Wingfield headlined an article suggesting that it is Time To Leave the Laptop Behind, while Mike Elgan of ComputerWorld is In Search of the Smartphone Laptop. Both point to trends that continue to evolve as all eyes are on the Cloud and how we use it. Both also point up that we still cling to our keyboards and big screens like ropes from parachutes guiding us back to Earth.


The trends may indeed point to some consumers wanting to leave that laptop behind, but not without having familiar ways to utilize them. Check out this quote from Wingfield’s article:

“…roughly 52% of respondents to the In-Stat survey said they could envision using a smart phone in the future as their sole computing device, provided handset companies make improvements like better keyboards, expandable screens and applications that work as well as they do on PCs. And it’s clear that a sizable number of users already are starting to see their smart phone as a replacement for their laptop for at least some of their needs. In a survey of 460 iPhone users from March by Rubicon Consulting Inc., more than 28% of respondents strongly agreed and 29% mildly agreed when asked whether the iPhone was replacing their use of laptops.”

Certainly handhelds can have keyboards (unless you’re Apple), and it is interesting that HTC continues to lead some non-Apple trends with devices that offer both keyboards and touch options for input and interaction. (It is an interesting side note that a number of pundits who readily accepted the iPhone on-screen keyboard are now jumping for joy about the G1’s keyboard.) The pace is fast and almost dizzying in these interesting times and, if nothing else, the next step up from handhelds-Netbooks-have proven that the trend lines are completely bendable, and possibly easily broken. New turf is getting staked out constantly with new innovations, but there is still an eye and a tug towards the familiar. What are your thoughts? When you pull the Internet out of your pocket, what do you want that device to be?