Mobile Vendors Look to Grow Beyond Their Core Devices

Carl Weinschenk

In general, discussions of convergence focus on the melding of wireless and wired infrastructure and the ability of messages to cross many network frontiers to reach their destinations.


Increasingly, however, convergence is a term that can be used in relation to devices. The latest evidence of this is the news that Nokia has admitted that it is seriously contemplating getting into the laptop game. eWEEK reports that Chief Executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told Finnish broadcaster YLE this week that the company is looking at the opportunities. The story notes that Acer earlier in February joined Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo in the phone business.

GigaOm's Om Malik isn't too kind
to Nokia in this analysis of the news. Essentially, he says that the company has "calcified" and hasn't effectively responded to the onslaught of touchscreen phones from Apple, RIM and others that threaten its core business. In this context, moving into another line of business-and one with its own innovators and fast-moving companies-doesn't seem to Malik to be the savviest of maneuvers.


Moves and suspected moves by Nokia, HP and Lonovo's aren't the only signs that device tributaries are flowing upstream into a single transistor-filled electronic lake. When asked at the World Economic Forum earlier this year in Davos, Dell founder Michael Dell didn't deny rumors that the company was considering getting into the phone business. The rumors focused on Windows Mobile and Android approaches. One element of the rumor-that a device would be introduced at the Mobile World Congress that recently concluded in Barcelona-proved to be inaccurate. That doesn't mean, however, that the rumors are totally baseless.

The fluid nature of the situation is the theme of this CNET News piece, which looks at the landscape from the Microsoft point of view. CEO Steve Ballmer assumes that Android will be used in a laptop and that Google will seek to become a factor in the desktop operating system business, though precisely how is not specified. The story links to a CNET News piece from early January that discusses claims that Android already has been used in a netbook. Says Ballmer of the current situation and Microsoft's likely reaction:

The seams between what is a phone operating system and a PC operating system will change, so we have ramped our investment in the client operating system.

There are a few reasons that this is happening. <strong>I touched on some-through the lens of the battle between netbooks, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and smartphones-in a post earlier this month</strong>. The bottom line is that the explosion in processing power, memory and transport bandwidth is making it possible for more types of devices to do more things. This empowers folks to demand precisely-not almost-what they want. A doctor may desire something on which he can scribble prescriptions and diagnoses, while a remote worker may want a more elaborate keyboard and a warehouse worker a gadget that is primarily a phone. This increased granularity in demand and the ability of devices to fulfill those wishes it is driving creativity-and leading vendors to cross formerly impenetrable lines.

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