I have a theory that elevation influences thought. It has to do with the view. If you're down in the trenches, and all you can see is the wall in front of you, you tend to deal more with immediate issues. But if you're on the crest of a mountain or peering out a 40th-floor window, your strategic insight expands with the field of vision.
Ever hear of an oracle who lived in the meadow? See what I mean?
This theory is precisely why I try to set aside time for higher-level thought while on airplane trips. Here are some recent 32,000-foot notions:
It strikes me that desktop PC vendors are mimicking their mobile PC brethren with this new wave of small-form-factor PCs. Now, like notebooks, desktop PCs increasingly are differentiated by size. "Good, better, best" is slowly being replaced by "small, medium, large."
The paradox of the PC market is that it costs more to squeeze features into a smaller container. If they're not careful, PC vendors could inadvertently supersize their customers into a lower-priced system. Better to stick to the "You want fries with that?" method of jacking the price with add-ons.
Is ultrawideband really going to take off in PCs? I found the notion of wireless USB and wireless 1394 appealing when multiband OFDM proponents introduced it. But when I think about it, wasn't Bluetooth going to be the solution for short-distance, personal-area networking? How about infrared before that? I'm not down on UWB now just adopting a wait-and-see approach.
Once processor suppliers ship dual-core offerings, will servers with single chips be considered two-way systems? My vote: No. Let's just count the number of processor packages, not the total internal cores.
What percentage of flight attendants are aware that "airplane mode" disables the transceiver on a smart phone? I've watched too many flustered travelers forced to thumb through in-flight magazines while their e-mail sits unread on their powered-down smart phones. Meanwhile, I work away on my notebook PC and I'm never questioned, even if I forget to disable the built-in wireless LAN. Gazing out the window all the while.
Mike Feibus is principal analyst at TechKnowledge Strategies Inc., a market research firm
in Scottsdale, Ariz., that focuses on components for mobile systems. Write him at email@example.com.