Dell to make ultra-mobile audio-visual presentation platform

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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.

In fact, big companies (like Sony, Samsung and Fujitsu) have been making these things for years. Today's story is that Dell is rumored to be making one -- as has been rumored for years already.

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.

Pic: onlyUMPC

Published by Rob Beschizza

Follow Rob @beschizza on Twitter.

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6 Comments

  1. I guess what they don’t realize is the market is there for these just at a price point and in quantities that make it impossible for someone like Intel to care. They keep trying to make a niche market into a mass market. Good luck!

  2. So this isn’t about an upcoming device?
    Just a “Boo Dell-Yay Apple” exercise?

    Here’s a disclaimer:

    *Not an actual product…post

  3. That being said, MS has the worst habit of trying to create needs to fill around products as opposed to making products that fulfill needs.

    It’s blatant and it sucks. I agree there.

  4. It’s actually a lot harder to figure out a need to fill, and then fill it, than it is to make a neat device and then try to sell it.

    At least, in my experience.

  5. Hi,

    I`m desparately looking for a tool like that. Why ?
    1) I was recently in UK and to find a WWW-Cafe outside of London is pretty hard. You get WIFI in Cafes for free, but BYO (Bring Your Own Hardware)
    2)
    I`m from Europe an I hopp every Day from Belgium to Germany. And I would like to have an Iphone, but the Data roaming is killing You. Apple is not able or willing to make pressure to the mobilephone providers to offer reasonable rates.
    On the other Hand ipod Touch would be great, if You could use that bluetooth for tethering with any mobile.

    Best regards

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