2006-04-07

The carrypad concept criticized

Time for the Carrypad? is an analytical blog which covers the emergence of a new device, dubbed the carrypad. It is between your PDA and mini-laptop, with a 5"-7" screen and a miniature keyboard. In other words, a bit like Sharp Zaurus or Fujitsu Lifebook. Such a device does not yet exist, but would be nice to have.

Chippy, the keeper of the blog, has in the recent weeks been busy tracking what's happening with the upcoming UMPC devices, but has also added new analysis to the blog. The analysis up to now leaves some unanswered questions and could be tightened in spots. Basically the blog's idea is to make user needs and vendor products meet - to convince potential carrypad vendors that it is the time to bring this technology to the market and to convince potential users that they need exactly this kind of a device. So let's see what could be still worked on in the carrypad vision to make it work better for the goal:

1. Vagueness. Although fairly good device specs are listed, Chippy covers many different devices which are like the carrypad, but are not too close to the spec. These devices - ranging from mini-notebooks, PDAs with keyboards to mini-pads and UMPCs (of the Microsoft Origami kind) - are very different from each other. This is a bit confusing - how much does each of these devices tell us about carrypads?

2. Mixing of use paradigms. In particular, devices with a touch screen only are very different in their use from devices with both a touch screen and a keyboard. The former are good for viewing, browsing and media consumption, the latter for editing, messaging and office applications. It is obvious that Chippy's idea of the carrypad would put it to the latter category, but it should be understood that this will mean different device specs, use cases and user demographics. There probably should be a few other device categories defined, so they can stand out and be contrasted with the carrypad category. (It should be assumed that devices will always have a touch screen, as those are cheap to manufacture, comfortable to use, and even appear in devices like Motorola's Linux phones.)

3. Focus on a single holy grail device. This can limit one's thinking, and even lead to overconfidence in one device type. The carrypad does not exist in a vacuum but would interact with various fixed and mobile, legacy and future devices. Different users would experience different device ecosystems, so they would require different devices for their carrypad-equivalent slot. For example somebody with a laptop already has a keyboarded portable device, so a device even more portable than a carrypad could make sense. The markets for smart mobile devices have a plurality of different products, and various convergence vectors and migration paths are being explored. Analyzing the requirements and solutions from a different angle could be fruitful.

4. Incomplete analysis. Chippy has posted some very nice information on power consumption and use scenarios vs. form factor. This is already very good work, but more angles of approach and argumentation are needed to clarify the case. I think device categories need to be connected with different users's practical environments, device ecosystems, usage scenarios and personal experiences.

If you study Chippy's use scenarios diagram, you see that a carrypad could do almost anything. But will it feel powerful and convenient enough for the various scenarios, and will it provide the exact right amount of mobility? Who would its user base be, and when would they bring their carrypad along? If one is to prove the superiority of a new device concept, one must detail how it fulfills certain user needs better than existing devices, perhaps through different use case scenarios. Why does the carrypad concept stand out from all the others? It would seem that for many users, the carrypad would not be outstandingly attractive, but that is a story for another time.

You can find Chippy's great blog here: http://www.carrypad.com/blog/

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3 Comments:

At 08:50, Blogger Chippy said...

Hi Varis.

Thanks. I got a lot from your post. Its actually a turning point for the blog because its the first time i've received criticism. (It shows that someone is really reading the blog!!)

It also gives me some focus from readers eyes. I can see how my 'ideal' is gettting mixed with the wider UMPC device comments I make.

I'm working on a new website concept right now where i'll probably split these two angles into two websites. One with the blog about the ideal carrypad, the other being a look at the wider angle of UMPC space.

Thanks again for the comments.

Steve/Chippy @ Carrypad.

 
At 08:51, Blogger Chippy said...

Hi Varis.

Thanks. I got a lot from your post. Its actually a turning point for the blog because its the first time i've received criticism. (It shows that someone is really reading the blog!!)

It also gives me some focus from readers eyes. I can see how my 'ideal' is gettting mixed with the wider UMPC device comments I make.

I'm working on a new website concept right now where i'll probably split these two angles into two websites. One with the blog about the ideal carrypad, the other being a look at the wider angle of UMPC space.

Thanks again for the comments.

Steve/Chippy @ Carrypad.

 
At 17:23, Blogger Varis said...

Yes, voicing of criticism shows that you are important ;) I guess any new theory goes through 4 stages in its career (following William James on this subject here):
1. They ignore you
2. They criticize you, claiming your idea to be absurd and horribly mistaken
3. They admit it to be true, but note it's trivial or insignificant
4. They realize the new idea's importance and popularity, and claim they invented it first...

The icct and the carrypad blogs both have their focus in smart, mobile internet devices, and we are interested in the same general device space. We both have a different angle on the subject - so more criticism later - which can make for complementary viewpoints and fruitful discussion.

I've been thinking of splitting the blog and running several blogs in parallel as well. I think succesful blogs target well-defined niches, on the other hand a blog that is seldom updated may fall into oblivion in Internet publicity. If you want to run a complete web portal for UMPC devices (a bit misleading term there, your definition is different from Intel's), you can still add multiple blogs to the site, and even choose your own blogging software (such as WordPress) more easily.

There are some areas in the carrypad spec which could be worked on/considered in more detail. Which OS could work on it, and how well? This choice will make huge differences in the product spec and usage. And which wireless technologies should it have?

 

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