So, I ordered a Nokia 770. Unfortunately it’s not here yet, but I’m anxiously awaiting it. Pretty nifty little gadget… wi-fi and bluetooth, running a variant of Debian. And a few blog posts around the web have gotten me thinking about where things might be headed. Russell Beattie believes that the mobile phone as a primary internet access device is the way we’re going. At least in his early posts about the 770, he wasn’t inspired. But after trying a PSP as a web tablet, he has started to change his tune. The latest 770 post is the one that really got me thinking.
I don’t think the mobile phone as client is the way we’re going. I think the mobile phone as access point is the future. Ari Jaaksi, head of Nokia’s open source operations, seems to agree. The mobile phone is just too limited. Screen size is the biggest limitation. I’ve got Google Maps on my cell phone, but it’s not great, because you just can’t see enough. Smartphones might help (personally, I can’t stand them), but even a Treo doesn’t have a screen anywhere near the size or resolution of the 770. And if it did, who would want to hold it up to their ear to use it as a phone?
When true 3G mobile internet becomes common, the mobile phone can virtually replace the cable modem and wireless access point. Why do I need broadband to my home when I can get broadband performance from the tiny phone in my pocket, and wirelessly connect my devices to it (there’s an answer to this coming later)?
So that covers the access side, but what about the client? If the phone isn’t suitable, what is? I propose that for 90% of what the average user does, a mix of 770-like devices would fit the bill. The 770′s screen may be a bit small, but it does have decent 800×480 resolution, which is going to be plenty for most websites. For web surfing, e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, and casual gaming (we may talk a lot about FPS games here, but casual games are much more widely played), a small web tablet would do the job perfectly, when bundled with a bluetooth keyboard. Those of us doing development and playing resource heavy games are still going to have machines at home. And there’s the answer to the earlier question– you’ll want broadband to your home because you’ll always want access to your stored content. If high-speed wireless connectivity is widely available, you won’t need an iPod– your music will be on your home machine and you’ll be able to listen to it remotely on your device when you’re away from home. Recorded TV or movies? Same thing.
I don’t think convergence is coming to the mobile device, it’s coming to the home device. The box next to your TV should be able to store your music, your TV shows, your movies… or play your games, let you do your development, anything that requires large amounts of storage or processing power.
But everything else, which is most of our computing work, can be done on a small wireless device, as long as the device has a reasonable interface. That’s where the phone falls flat.
To answer Russell’s question, the killer app is: everything you can do on your desktop web browser, but from anywhere. The killer app is real wireless freedom.
Or, the 770 will flop like every other attempt at a web tablet has.
This post originally appeared on another site.