In the end, people need to see the UPC for what it can become and not in the context of things they have used before. This is not an easy task for most folks and virtually impossible for Jim, who, like me, has likely seen too many ideas like this fail due to poor execution. Strangely enough, the IBM butterfly laptop was probably the closest thing we had to a device like this and it failed miserablynot because it wasnt a good idea, but because IBM cut the wrong corners and buyers saw the result as an expensive, crippled laptop. If the market shares Jims view, the same could happen here. Looking Ahead to the FutureThis wont be an easy birth. Handheld computers are getting more capable and handheld features are being built into laptop computers. In addition, a new class of handheld computers, based on Linux, is being introduced in the third world to address that market. While more of a handheld, it will arrive as a subsidized solid state device, which could limit the entry of more capable UPCs. In addition, laptops are gravitating to 15.4-inch displays, and once you get used to this size screen, it is really hard to go to something smaller. Ultralight laptops like the stunning Sony Vaio 505G are also being more widely accepted and users may find it difficult to choose a UPC from a company they may not have heard of over a product with a familiar brand that is slightly larger. Still, the UPC is here, and less expensive ones are right around the corner. Antelope Technologies makes a modular unit now, and soon OQO and
Vulcan Ventures will have similar but less expensive offerings. My hope is that, unlike Jim, you will open your imaginations and see the potential these products represent. The future is almost here.
Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology.
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Ive been fighting to get this class of product launched for more than five years now, ever since I saw the first IBM prototype. Such a device could eventually make point products like the iPod obsolete. They could rapidly allow automobiles to be connected without following the proprietary automotive model. They could ensure we always had our critical information with us in case of a disaster, and they could bring us one critical step closer to being truly connected all of the time.