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What the Heck is a 'Mobile Companion' Anyway

Network Computing's technology editors love shiny new gadgets. The Foleo -- Palm's new "mobile companion" created instant discussion among their ranks on the system's usability, use cases -- and future. Follow their debate and then let us know what you...

Greg Shipley: Regarding this announcement from Palm my initial response is: I don't get it. With the merging of the traditional PDA and the traditional cell phone nearly complete, I'm guessing within the next 12 months we'll be seeing smartphones that do just about everything a PDA ever could. And UMPCs are already close to smartphone size. Yet somehow there's room for ANOTHER class of device? Heck, outside of having full edit capability of Office docs most smartphones already have the basics of PDAs covered: contacts, tasks, calendars, and email.

I'll go one step further though: I've been watching for the collision of tomorrow's smart phone with today's laptop. Toss in UMPCs like the OQO 02 that are nearly smartphone sized but run full-windows and one could even argue that the collision is right in front of us.

So let me get this straight: With smartphones arguably already consuming the PDA space, laptops shrinking, UMPCs getting to smartphone sized and smartphone's starting to tout laptop-like specs (a 2006 Treo 700wx sports 312 MHz processor, 64 MB built-in RAM, 128 MB Flash ROM, additional storage, etc.), Palm is introducing another class of device to meet what needs, exactly?

As a consumer I have a hard time imagining myself going to go look for a smartphone sidekick. I'm going to look for a smartphone that can cover 90% of the use-cases I'd use a laptop for, and then I'll go get a UMPC if I *really* need a smaller laptop. "Mobile Companion?" I don't think so.

Critical in Chicago...

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