Rob Fisher, fellow Transport Blogger and a favourite blogger of mine generally, has a posting up at his personal blog about the coming-real-soon-now Asus Padfone. Instead of each of us having a phone and a computer with a screen, this gizmo will combine the two. When you want a phone, you use the phone. When you want a computer, you shove the phone into the screen.
The central point being that phones are now big enough and serious computers are now small enough, for a phone to contain a serious computer.
It seems like the future. The amount of stuff that can be done on a smartphone-sized device is about to hit some critical level. Already desktop PCs are only needed for high end games and serious number crunching. The PC has become a laptop has become a netbook has become a phone. The only problem is the ergonomics, and a single device with multiple form factors is a good solution.
Well, I don’t know about that “only needed for high end games and serious number crunching” bit, but in principle this has to be right. Maybe not now, but any year now.
Asus has form (as in good form) for spotting when something has got small enough to be seriously different. A while back, they lead the world into genuinely portable and genuinely cheap computers, with the Asus Eee PC. I got one. At first I liked it, but eventually I got fed up with its geek-friendly but human-hostile operating system and with its just-too-small keyboard, so I sold it on to a geek child, and got a proper netbook with a proper operating system that I was able to work properly (not least because it was identical to the one on my big old home computer). Even so, despite my eventual disappointment with this Asus offering, I always liked and still like what it was trying to do.
This Asus Padfone immediately started ringing the same bells in my head. It looks like this Padfone, or something very similar, could be the natural successor to that netbook of mine, and to my regular phone, and to my ridiculously antique mobile phone, and to my Filofax, and even, in the fullness of time, to my big old home computer. Microsoft look out. Google really is taking over the world.
Asus also understands that low prices cause a lot more people to become interested in whatever it is. If this thing is as cheap as I hope it is, that will hurry things along, just like the ultra-cheap Eee PC did.
I will probably be holding off this time, waiting for others to respond with their versions of the same thing, and even then it may not really suit me. However, next time I meet Rob I will definitely be cross-examining him about this latest triumph of consumer capitalism. Despite all the financial chaos, they just keep on coming, don’t they? Why can’t schools, hospitals and, above all, banks be like this, getting more effective and cheaper and just all-round nicer with every year that goes by? Well, we know why. The rules for making these latter things should be a lot like the rules for making Padfones: make a Padfone if you want to and sell it to whoever will pay you what you ask. If you go bust, that’s your problem. The rules for schools and hospitals and, above all, banks are instead sadly different.
There are several other recent postings up at Rob’s Blog, and I recommend all readers here to have a scroll down there, if they haven’t already done this recently.