You’d think Engadget with all their resources would dig just a little deeper, but then, hey, CES can get a bit crazy as we all know. Proclaiming that they “finally bring to rest the following question: what the hell’s the difference between a UMPC and a MID.”, they take their cues from Intel’s Dan Monahan, swallow the company line, and basically wipe out some history and miss the real point of the story. Here’s what Dan (and Engadget) are pumping out.
A UMPC is a business class device for enterprise users. It runs a heavy OS like Vista and is optimized for office-use applications like Excel and Word. (Ok, hold your laughter.)
A MID is a consumer-class lifestyle device. It runs a lightweight OS (like Linux,) and is optimized for things like media playback and web surfing. (And yes, you’re not the only one feeling all deja vu like.)
I guess the Engadget folks never really picked up one of the UMPCs or read any of the press releases on the devices. I’m sure Intel did (they were a part of the development of the dang things) and now they are just looking for some market differentiation. The definition above of a MID is basically identical to the early descriptions of UMPCs, and no one should be surprised there. But things sure seem to be shifting on the UMPC front now don’t they?
Let’s get two points clear here, and admittedly, this is all from my perspective. No one has any real idea what the MIDs are going to be. Yet. We can all see the potential. (Can anyone say iPhone?) I buy consumer focused, and media and web centric. That part is a no-brainer. And it was the same no-brainer with the UMPC when it was rolled out. What I’m not buying is the supposed business-class device orientation for UMPCs. Give me a break. Sure maybe some of the TabletKiosk devices and other rugged devices will fit into a vertical market or two. The OQO Model 02 (which interestingly enough doesn’t have a touch screen) is certainly priced at the business class level. If that is what Intel is pointing to with that kind of definition, then Intel has kissed the UMPC as a consumer device goodbye by kicking it into the Enterprise realm.
Here’s point two. Those of us following the UMPC space since its inception have been saying for some time that the current MID promise is what UMPC should have been all along. In fact it was. Engadget should have dug a little deeper before drinking the Kool-Aid on this one. The handwriting has been on the Internet wall for quite some time and in much more depth.
Another point. Someone tell Microsoft. They just announced Origami Experience 2.0. Regardless of the merits of that software navigation overlay, it sure doesn’t strike me as aiming at the Enterprise. For that matter neither does Samsung’s new Q1 Ultra Premium UMPC. Anyone check out that new Asus R50A UMPC at CES? C’mon be honest. Is Asus aiming that cute piece of hardware with all the light up buttons at the Enterprise? Don’t think so.
Microsoft opened the Ultra-Mobile window and goofed by not putting a good window screen on it with a clear definition of what a UMPC is. They are paying the price for that now as Intel sees clearer Vistas ahead with the MIDs. I don’t blame Intel for trying to define things the way they are at this point, because clearly there is confusion out there and a vacuum. Someone needs to fill it. And since Intel is jumping in first, I guess they can do what they want. I do think, however, they’d better serve every one involved by being a bit less disenguous in their description. Intel is betting on the MID in what really isn’t a horse race. They and their partners, don’t have that horse ready to come to the gate yet. (We’re looking from MIDs six months or so in the future.) So they can’t quite put the UMPC out to pasture just yet with products still in the pipeline.
Before reading between the lines, I’m sure anyone who knows anything at all about this space did a spit take when they saw the UMPC definition Engadget swallowed hook, line, and sinker. I’ve been saying all week that with the introduction of the MID, the name UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC), and prehaps the device, as we know it today will be dead and gone in 18 months. Intel just confirmed that is the way they are thinking as well.