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THOUGHT: The Mobile Phone is the (next) Computer
Posted by Arne Hess - on Friday, 18.05.07 - 15:47:20 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 17012x
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Long time ago - in the last century - "The Net is the Computer" has become the corporate motto of Sun Microsystems and as much as the .COM hype faded away, also this motto isn't used by Sun anymore. Nevertheless, it seems that the (Inter)Net isn't the next computer now but the mobile phone in your pocket.
First one was Nokia who gave their N-series devices the surname "Multimedia Computer". Now it's Microsoft which wants to make your mobile phone a cheap computer. No, the mobile phone (maybe your next Windows Mobile Standard or Professional smartphone) isn't competing with the 100 Dollar Notebook initiative but Microsoft wants to make mobile phones even smarter; that's at least what Microsoft has in his mind when they talk about the "Fone+" initiative.

During the WinHEC Conference, Microsoft's Research chief Craig Mundie said he wants to encourage phone manufacturers to formalize the transition of the phone to a mobile PC.

Mundie said that Microsoft has a research project called "Fone+" that would allow the phone to work with a TV as a secondary display and one that could allow video stored on the device to be played back on the television. For Microsoft, the challenge is extending the PC platform into new applications and form factors:

"There's no reason that if this thing were hooked up to a large display that we couldn't watch video in this environment," Mundie said.

Well, I'm not sure if such a feature needs a complete new project but one thing is clear - many (non Microsoft) mobile phones can do this already (playing a video on TVs) and even some Microsoft-based smartphones, like the HTC Athena aka HTC X7500 Advantage/T-Mobile Ameo, can playback video on a TV. And all these devices can do even more like displaying photos on the TV or streaming music to a HiFi. Indeed, it's good to see that Microsoft wants to make its (Windows Mobile? ) phones smarter but "Fone+" sounds to me like a buzz-word, like "The Net is the Computer" was a (brilliant) buzz-motto during the .COM hype.

Quite frankly, we have everything in place now and as much as Nokia's N-series devices are sold as "Multimedia Computer" already, as much are Windows Mobile smartphones ready to be sold under the same label as well. Some Windows Mobile smartphones even features 600+ MHz fast CPUs, others features NVidia graphic cards, and others features 8 GB hard drives while some others sporting an inbuilt VGA screen (which is even good enough for PAL or NTSC output already). So where's the point to combine all this into a small form factor, giving such a device a strong enough battery and adding a TV-out port? And if you add some cool place-shift software (like WebGuide4 which can even use the inbuilt Windows Media Player) or Sling Media SlingPlayer Mobile, you can even watch live TV on a TV without having an antenna connected to the TV!

What we need now are intuitive GUIs to make using such a device as easy to use as possible. A good example is the Portable Media Center platform (which unfortunately died). It had a Media Center PC-like GUI which was extremely easy to use. It contained a TV-out and I've often used my PMC to playback recorded TV programs or ripped DVDs on a different TV just by connecting the PMC with the TV.

Still, I'm a little bit lost what "Fone+" should and will be but let us hope it will be something great and useful for the consumer. In the meantime enjoy using your Windows Mobile (or any other smart) smartphone to do exactly the same today.

Cheers ~ Arne


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