Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Asus T91: a boon to mobile broadband but a bane to smartphones?

The US Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas featured more than its fair share of interested mobile broadband gadgets. Top billing for me goes to Asus's new T91 Convertible Tablet.
There's little doubt that Asus has done some sterling work developing the low-cost mass market netbooks that are a necessity for mobile broadband to flourish. I suspect they'll have another winner on their hands with the T91, unless price ends up being too high because they've jammed it so full of features. I won't bore you with all the details (you can find them here), but as a flavour, it features a touch screen, embedded GPS, a TV tuner, WiMAX and a swivel display.

But, haven't we heard this all somewhere before? It's a combination of the iPhone and Nokia's N77, albeit rather larger, with WiMAX thrown into the mix. As such, Asus seems to be approaching the smartphone market from a different angle. Priced sub-€500 and with an operator subsidy it almost represents a threat to the smartphone market. Slim it down a little more and work on the form factor and we could see some damage done to the smartphone market as people opt for a simple voice phone and a webbook. With regard to the inclusion of WiMAX, we'll wait with bated breath to see if there will be an embedded HSPA version. It would seem inevitable.

Picture source: Asus


  1. Laptops are not smartphones. Totally different form factors. Neither will replace the other.

  2. True, but just like in a car market, you will see lots of cross-overs, which will start eating into smartphone market space.

    If consumer is given a choice for <$500 gadget,it is not clear, what would they prefer:

    - New iPhone with nice user-friendly GUI and music/video player, but limited storage and non-replaceable battery
    - New BlackBerry, integrated with company e-mail, but no WiFi and video camera
    - New Netbook with off-the shelf Win XP, tons of apps, all VoIP and video clients you can imagine and mobile broadband, but too big to fit in a pocket
    - New UMPC, which can run any business-class apps, fit into a pocket, but with a screen too small to do any real work

    Bottom line is that the choice is getting bigger and better and part of consumer and business market will migrate from smartphones to larger, but more close to PC experience...

  3. It's not really a replacement. I agree that although the form factors are converging they'll never meet up. It's more an issue of budget displacement. Will I buy a cheap phone and a ultra mobile PC or an expensive smartphone?