DualCor CPC appearing and disappearing; is it too late?

Dualcor_1CarryPad indicated word that the DualCor cPC was beginning to ship out to resellers only to have a commenter named "DualCor" indicate  that the unit is not shipping in the U.S. yet as the device is not finalized. For a device that had expected availability in the first quarter of 2006. We’re now into the 3rd quarter of 2006, but still no device (and still no integrated wireless connectivity of any kind either); not only will this be a case of "too little, too late" when the device is finally spotted in the wild, but I’m still failing to see the point of the device at all.

Let’s assume for a second that the CarryPad tip was accurate and that you could pick up a DualCor device today; let’s also assume the device is roughly $1600 to $1800; it may be slightly more or less, but this is a safe range. Who is it for? I’d say it’s a niche product WITHIN a niche audience and here’s why.

We already have a small, ultra-portable market and product out there called the UMPC based on the Origami reference design. Above that we have a small notebook market and below that we have a handheld phone device market. Remember that the cPC from DualCor aims for this handheld market as well as the UMPC market. Sounds great since you have a full Windows Mobile device and a Windows XP device in one. But why?

You can’t use Windows XP in a mobile setting for too long as the battery is around a 20 Watt/hour capacity. For reference, the Tablet Kiosk eo holds a 26 W/Hr battery and the Samsung Q1 sports a 29 W/Hr battery. In my mind, with a 1.5 GHz Via processor, I’d expect the cPC to get around 1.5 to 2 hours of battery life as a computer at best.

How about one of the biggest UMPC beefs by the masses: no integrated keyboard? We get around that with inking, which the cPC can do although on a 5-inch screen, it will be a challenge. We also add keyboards as I’ve done with a Bluetooth keyboard. Oh wait, Bluetooth requires a wireless connection, something the cPC doesn’t have natively. You’re not completely SOL because you can add a USB keyboard or you can add a BT dongle, but good mobile computing design today practically mandates this type of wireless connection.

Let’s think about the Windows Mobile side of the house now. I’ve used a Pocket PC or Windows Mobile device for over 6 years, so this aspect is appealing to me. Then I started thinking about what I use my current device for and put a short list together in order of priority and usage.

  • E-mail
  • Phone calls
  • TXT messages
  • eBook downloading and reading
  • Occasional web surfing
  • PIM data
  • Podcast listening

Out of these main features, the only one I can do natively with the cPC is almost the lowest on my list: PIM data. Everything else requires some type of connectivity that the cPC doesn’t have natively; there’s no 3G connectivity, no cellular connectivity, not even WiFi, which again is a staple of mobile computing devices.

Let’s get back to my original thought: the cPC is a niche product WITHIN a niche market. The niche market is the market for handheld computing devices, because let’s face it: a majority of computer users are not mobile in the sense that they need something smaller than a standard laptop. True mobile users are in the computing minority; I’m not naive enough to think otherwise. So, we’ve established that there’s a niche market. Based on the thoughts above, the cPC is clearly a niche product within that market because it’s semi-functional for a small amount of computer users.

At this point, I see the cPC as a case of much too little and way too late. Will they sell any of the devices? Sure they will once it finally gets to market. However, instead of making a big splash the mobile pond as the device seemed poised to do at the beginning of the year, I suspect we’ll barely see a ripple in the pond by the end of the year.


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