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One of the benefits of being someone who gets to use a lot of different mobile devices is the conversations these devices start with those interested everywhere I go. Whether I am in a coffee shop or a business meeting pulling out one of my mobile devices invariably starts a conversation with those around me who are wishing they had a good device to use in their own work. Most of the devices I’ve carried around and used a lot are convertible Tablet PCs that are good notebook computers in addition to the Tablet stuff and that is what catches most people’s attention. Everyone is familiar with notebooks and how they look and work and that is what most people have in their mind when they think about mobile technology they can use in their own life.
Since the introduction of the MacBook Air (MBA) a lot of conversation has taken place about how thin it is and how that is what people looking for notebooks want for themselves. I have said in the past that I don’t think that thin is the primary attribute that people want in a notebook and the many conversations I have held with regular people drives that point home to me time and again. I base this observation in large part due to the reaction that folks have to the different convertible notebooks that I carry and use. It is interesting that no one ever says to me "how thin that device is" even though most of the notebooks I am seen using certainly qualify. Not MBA thin of course but definitely thinner than most notebooks out there. No, most people notice the overall size of the notebook and other features it may have. The Tablet bits intrigue almost everyone who find that could be useful in their own work but no one ever states that thin is important to them. Features, price and overall size carry the day in these conversations.
I do find that the smaller the notebook is the more attention it grabs from others, a point driven home since i have been carrying the Fujitsu P1620 every day. The Fuji is not that thin compared to other notebooks I have used but the small size starts a lot of conversations and I find that many do feel that a small notebook could fit their work and that definitely interests them. I hear a lot of people state that the small size would make it so much easier to carry and travel with and when they see that feature-wise it has few compromises the reaction is very positive. I have seen that same reaction every time an Asus EEE PC enters the room. Of course when I swivel a screen around for Tablet work it blows a lot of people away no matter what device I am carrying as most have never seen one in the real world. Just about everyone comments that the Tablet features could aid them in their mobile work but no one feels the thinness of the notebook is a big deal. So based on my interaction with real people I can state that small trumps thin in the notebook world, and Tablet trumps non-Tablet too. I will be very interested to hear some real sales figures from Apple after a while to see how many of the MBA they are selling. While everyone I talk to thinks they are sexy not many have indicated they intend to buy one or that the thinness would aid them very much in the real world.