Thursday, September 9, 2010

So much for smartbooks

Qualcomm's effort to create a “smartbook” are officially dead. While a major strategic push in 2009 was creating a mobile communications device that’s in between a smartphone and a laptop, Paul Jacobs admitted Wednesday that the plan is dead.

Instead, Jacobs reportedly admitted that the iPad has filled that niche, in his talk at the IQ2010 event in London. (I say reportedly, because there are no transcripts, videorecordings, or press releases of his talk, and few if any direct quotations).

I never quite got the “smartbook” concept, because it was always somewhat like a netbook or a laptop. The advantage the iPad has is that it‘s a device that can be used in a different way than a laptop — standing up, in a restaurant, on a Southwest flight, etc. — but with some of the screen real estate and computing power of a laptop.

Even if smartbooks have lost to tablets, all is not lost. Unless WiFi coverage gets dramatically better than today, there will be a demand for 3G (or 4G) chips for these tablets as well as ARM-enabled processors like the QCT Snapdragon. And except for HP's (webOS) and Apple’s (iPhone OS) tablets, most will be running Android, which Qualcomm and its ecosystem are well-equipped to support.

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