Monday, November 24, 2008

Would you use a smartphone dock?

Imagine this situation a couple of years from now, say 2010: your smartphone is as powerful as the entry-level laptops of early 2008, though with slightly less storage (10-20GBs) and no removable storage options. Would you sacrifice your desktop and laptop for smartphone docks?
The vaporware OLO
The OLO above is a patented idea which won't be out anytime soon, I imagine, but it offers a glimpse into some possibilities. What if you just popped your phone into your laptop (the iPhone's touchscreen here becomes the touchpad) and get access to your normal applications and documents without having to maintain sets of computers and sync them? Would you do it?
The truly available RedFly

The RedFly is available right now (the website says for 1/10th the cost of a normal laptop). It works via bluetooth and an application for your phone. No disks. No CPU. Nothing. Doesn't sound too enticing right now.

But, really, that's only because the phones are so anemic. What happens when the phone makers start using the ARM Cortex-A9, with Atom-like processing for a third of the power? What about the next generation? Dedicated video decoding hardware and 3D acceleration. Your smart phone will have enough oomph to do almost all of what people do now, but the limiting factor will be ergonomics. Enter a dock.

Pull your phone from the dock, to take it and your roaming profile with you. Snap it into your dock at home to continue where you left off. On the road at a hotel? Pull out your lapdock (or walk over to the hotel's one if the interface is standardized), plop the phone iin, and you're ready to go. Biometrics unlocks the phone for use. The terminals are dumb as rocks and won't hack your phone.

Does that sound attractive to you?

During my Google Apps experiment, I'm starting to see the advantage of a real roaming profile. The sync'ed toolbar and on-line docs make everything easy for me, but I'm scared about the privacy consequences. I'd actually like to see the Gnome Online Desktop come to reality with a single sign-on (OpenID-enabled), but there's a lot of changes that will have to be made to Gnome apps to get that to happen.

In short, I'd use a phone plus dock. Would you?


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