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Summary:

The company that kicked off the netbook craze is reportedly working on a netbook that uses a phone plugged into the device for connectivity. ASUS is using the modular phone system by Modu for connectivity on an as-needed basis by popping the phone into the netbook.

Modu

The company that kicked off the netbook craze is reported to be working on a netbook that uses a phone plugged into the device for connectivity. ASUS is looking at the modular phone system by Modu to provide connectivity on an as-needed basis by popping the phone into a slot designed for that purpose. This method would allow owners to have mobile connectivity with a single data plan on the phone.

I first broached this concept a year ago, and I think it is a valid opportunity for companies wishing to push the envelope. My method carries the ASUS concept further by using a high-end Android phone for the modular connectivity. The notebook would be a smartbook more than a netbook, with the processor and storage all provided by the Android phone. This would make the smartbook side of the duo cheap to produce, as the phone would have all of the computing power onboard. The owner would have a full Android smartbook when needed, yet be able to pull the phone out and go when it is not. This means the phone is state of the art, and the smartbook is adequately powered as a result.

I hope ASUS brings such a netbook to market; it would be a welcome innovation. I don’t believe that the target buyer would settle for a phone that was not a full-blown smartphone, however, so hopefully this would be addressed. Simple connectivity is not going to be enough to make this product successful. It will need to be a no-compromise duo to have a chance for success.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): To Win In the Mobile Market, Focus On Consumers

  1. Wouldn’t any independent attempt to do this by netbook/computer manufacturers still be limited by the willingness of cell phone companies to allow tethering?

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  2. Hasn’t this company heard of using a USB cable to attach to your phone? then you don’t need a specialty phone that only works with your netbook.

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  3. Michael Hunter Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    The idea of having “scalable parts” seems okay. Why not have input devices (keyboard, mouse), phone (processor, network, small display, small storage), tablet (processor, larger display, medium storage), and external drive (large storage) be able to interact over a PAN or LAN (BT, wireless USB, wifi)? You do this to a small extent. It has advantages in being able to upgrade each separately. I see three problems. The first is usability. Apple has the best integration between hardware and software and it shows. The MS side of the industry suffers. Things often don’t work in anything other then the suggest configuration. Start throwing different peripherals into the mix and breakage happens. The second is cost. Each of these things have power supplies and cases and other parts that make the sum more expensive. The third is size. The sum of these things and there attendant power/usb cables are going to be bigger then an integrated solution. I’m not convinced the gain for complete componetization is worth the cost.

    A few things I can see. External storage is nice. I’ve stopped worrying about how much storage each of my laptops has because I carry most of my stuff externally or store it on the network. Hopefully eSATA/USB3 and strong file system level encryption will become more ubiquitous.

    The other is network access. While is sucks just a little to carry around a device to do wifi to cell protocol conversion that has a processor you might be able to leverage for a few other things I don’t think it is that big of a deal. My laptop will always have and need more. The real gain we need to see here is in batteries.

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  4. Umm, doesn’t that sound an awful lot like the Redfly? I thought that was a good concept, but unfortunately they tied their fortunes to Windows Mobile when that platform was waning. They also could have done a better job with their keyboard. Kevin’s (and my) favorite complaint – lack of a full sized right shift key.

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  5. I have to agree with Cathy. Redfly tried that and we see where that got them. Yet a tablet with a 1 gig snapdragon proc. Decent on boras storage, removable media and 1 USB and the dock able phone into the unit would be nice

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