From Pocket PC to HPC to UMPC to MID, Intel and Microsoft rebrand their idea of palmtop computers with unerring regularity. This illustrates their desire to design perfect consumers rather than perfect computers: the specs read like a list of what the makers would like people to buy, not what features an interesting product might have. That's why the designs never change much, beyond increased performance and feature refinements, as the years go by. Just the name.
And yet people will pitch the ad for them, every time. Here's the Wall Street Journal, buying the notion that "Mobile Internet Devices" have just been invented like right now because the name is new.
The development effort is one of the first experiments by a big-name PC maker in a nascent category of products known as mobile Internet devices, or MIDs,which are designed to fill a perceived gap between mobile phones and laptop computers.
The odd part is that the story starts out comparing Dell's new gadget to the iPhone and iPod Touch: an interesting and clear-minded view immediately muddied by the dip into Intel's marketing labyrinth. The hypothetical device doesn't even have an Intel CPU.
That the iPhone was a better MID than any MID, for most consumers, was the biggest tech story of 2008. Dell seeking to improve on the iPhone is a story: Dell seeking to implement a variation on Microsoft's middle management marketing five finger death punch is a boring blog post, because any such device would be doomed to the same obscurity as the many others just like it. If Dell can't even design an interesting smartphone, how is it going to excite the world with something so niche-bound that--oh, right, Android. Wake me up when it makes calls or has a usable keyboard.
Apple figured something important out about three or four years ago: that the popular pocket computer would start out as a big phone with a clever UI and its own software ecosystem, not a miniaturized PC.