The iPhone IS NOT A Netbook! Part 3 of 3

On October 27, 2008

In the past two posts we set the stage and then argued that the iPhone IS a netbook. Little did we know that on the day when the third and final part of this was posted the Wallstreet Journal would be jumping on the same bandwagon in an article entitled, Time to Leave the Laptop Behind – For more mobile workers, phones increasingly give them much of what they need — with a lot less hassle.

The article correctly mentions the iPhone as one of, if not the, devices leading this trend. It notes-

Faster Internet connections over wireless 3G networks are getting more pervasive. Cutting-edge devices like Apple Inc.’s iPhone are sporting bigger, touch-sensing screens that make it easier to surf the Web. And mobile software is finally getting good enough for users to get their work done when they’re on the go.

There are some excellent arguments why the iPhone might be considered a netbook. There is also, however, a case to be made that this is nonsense. In this third and final post we will look at some of the arguments as to why…

The iPhone is not a netbook (and offer some final thoughts)

Among the reasons that the initial ultra-mobile PCs failed was that all of the first-generation, and a majority of the second-generation, devices were slate tablets. Unfortunately, slate tablets have never made it into the mainstream. (For full disclosure sake I should note that the one remaining Windows machine that I own is a Fujitsu slate tablet running Windows XP.) The most popular second-generation devices included the Sony UX series and the Samsung Q1 ultra, both of which supported (largely useless) keyboards in response to the outcry against the first-generation devices.

The iPhone is the ultimate slate device and that is a block to entry for many people. As much as I love the soft keyboard on the iPhone, there are as many or more people who are devoted to their physical keyboard or the keyboard on the upcoming blackberry storm that gives a physical response when you type on it. As if that weren’t enough of an issue, the iPhone’s crippled Bluetooth means that it’s impossible to use a Bluetooth keyboard with the device. All of this makes it as problematic or more problematic than the first generation old-form mobile PCs and at least with those you could add a keyboard via usb or bluetooth.

Compare that to net books, which all have keyboards (and some actually have good keyboards), and you see one of the places in which the iPhone is in no way a netbook.

In addition, netbooks have emerged as notebook alternatives largely because they are, first and foremost notebooks. The iPhone is not. While the first netbooks only had 4 GB of flash memory you can now get netbooks with 160 GB hard drives or more. The iPhone maxes out at 16 GB of flash memory and the iPod touch maxes out of 32 GB of memory. There’s no comparison between the two.

There’s more… Netbooks come in both the Linux and Windows varieties (and there are even some that have been hacked to run Mac OS X). This means they are open to the full depth and breath of the software categories currently available in each operating system. The iPhone and the iPod Touch are open to only those applications that have been previously approved by Steve Jobs and his minions (a clear crippling of the device).

Yes, the claim can be made that the iPhone is more than just a phone but it falls something short of a net book, and Steve Jobs making the claim seems like Apple was trying to bide time until they actually come out with their own version.

So which is correct?  Is the iPhone a netbook? I don’t think so. But this is what I do think –

Prior to August of 2007, I would have been the first person to jump on the netbook bandwagon.  But, in August of 2007 I got my first iPhone and pretty much everything that I would want to do with the net book I’m currently able to do with my iPhone.  Those things that require a notebook, I could do very well with my Mac book running at 2.4 GHz dual core processor with 4 GB of RAM.

The iPhone means that I don’t really need anything in between – at least not until Apple comes out with whatever they’ve got cooking.