Some time ago, I sat on a panel to discuss the growing proliferation of mobile devices. I said that the path we were on was unsustainable. In the long run, there was only room enough for two devices: one in the pocket, and one in the bag.
Feibus 1, Future 0.
Sort of. Yes, I predict the future like a forecaster. But I also keep score like I'm in marketing.
See, most of us on that panel were carrying cell phones, notebooks and PDAs. And as I expected (thank you), the PDA gradually folded itself into the phone.
Even as I made that prediction, though, I was already carrying a fourth device: an MP3 player that held more than a dozen of my favorite songs. I was ahead of the pack, as Steve Jobs hadn't yet unveiled the iPod or taught us the proper way to manage and transport our digital musical collections.
Flash forward to today, about a decade later. New mobile devices of all shapes, sizes and capabilities are proliferating. There are netbooks, e-readers, tablets and a flurry of targeted gadgets to boot.
Once again, I am here to tell you that the array is unsustainable, and some of these devices will dissipate as we opt for others to handle their workloads. Which ones? Glad you asked.
Netbooks won't hold up as their own retail class in--or one row over from--the mobile PC section. Soon, they'll be called what they really are: cheap notebooks. Netbooks do have a play as Internet devices bundled with wireless service through the phone carriers, however.
Tablets like Apple's new iPad also will do well as Internet devices sold by the service carriers.
Overlap? Nah. When you get right down to it, netbooks and tablets are the same device. Think about it. They're designed to meet nearly identical needs, only for consumers with different tastes. (Think flip phones and candy bar phones.) Let's call the category net-lets for now.