Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) are slowly starting to make their way to market. As they do, some are questioning whether the timing is too late, or if there is indeed a place for them to fit. Listening to the recent MobileTech Roundup podcast, the three hosts talked about this and all dismissed the category as one that didn’t fit their respective needs, and I find it hard to argue with their logic. Loren Heiny had an interesting post last week, laying out six things he thinks are essential to create a market for MIDs. (Side note: Loren has been on a real tear lately with some very thought provoking posts. Make sure you check them out.) So, all of this discussion has me thinking and here’s the result of that, messy as it may be.
More after the break
The market and marketing will determine whether or not MIDs will succeed, and from what it looks like at the moment it won’t be about whether we need another small mobile computer, but whether or not we need another media player with extra features. From what we’ve heard about the early stage MIDs (it seems odd to call them early stage since we’ve been talking about them for over a year) these devices are geared more for reading, watching, and listening than anything else. Yes, there will be the capability to send emails and browse the Internet, and yes, some are looking to take advantage of location aware services. But in all honesty, as I see it at the moment, these devices are positioning themselves to go head to head with Apple’s MIDs (iPhone and iPod Touch), Portable Media Players (PMPs), smartphones, and even some GPS navigation devices that have additional features. All of which have already begun the march to become the device you carry in your pocket.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s not necessarily a problem. It is a challenge that these companies will have to meet in order to find a place in the market. Remember, at last year’s big rollout of MIDs the word from Intel was that the devices we’d see in 2008 were merely precursors to the real MIDs that would come later in 2009 or 2010. That was the real target. Whether it was the onset and onslaught of Netbooks or some other reason, the big rollout in 2008 did not really occur. The competition is already in the game and continuing to make advances, while any OEM working on MID development is playing catch up.
Some interesting and random thoughts that I think will influence whether or not MIDs succeed.
- 3G connectivity has to be a mandatory inclusion. Without it, what’s the point? This puts the carriers in play, and I beleive carriers have to reexamine their data plan options for these devices to have any chance.
- The Linux ship that looked like it was going to sail grandly with Netbooks is taking on some water.
- App Stores are springing up everywhere on different platforms. Microsoft is talking about one now. Unless the native software on the MID platforms improves from what we’ve seen so far (I imagine it will) how will the thirst for applications be solved?
- Will these companies have the marketing savvy and dollars (in a weakened economy) to counter Apple’s marketing monster? Will Intel dump dollars in here?
- If the smartphone and feature phone markets continue to blur their lines of distinction, will customers demand phone service or will a two devices in your pocket work approach work?