Are MIDs dying a slow, painful death?


That’s the question I had after reading a UMPC Portal post making a last call for MIDs in 2008. Last call? When was the first call answered? There were plenty of Mobile Internet Devices shown off at the recent Intel Developers Forum, but we’re hearing far more about netbooks than MIDs even though the MID concept was born before the netbook idea.

I like the idea of MIDs, I really do. My iPhone is a MID that I use daily. The Nokia Internet Tablet is a nice MID also. But I’m wondering if the time has passed for the original MID vision due to a few factors:
  • The lines are blurring between feature-phones and smartphones. Consumers are getting some of the MID functions from these devices already and clearly, they’re already carrying their phone just about everywhere.
  • Netbooks have the focus right now and although they’re larger and not pocketable, they are very portable and have the capabilities to access the internet while mobile.
  • There are way too many possible MID interfaces and no emerging standard in terms of software just yet. That’s coming through the Moblin project but the market is passing by.
At this point, with very few devices available and the lack of consumer recognition of the term "MID", average consumers are buying other solutions. Phones are getting more advanced and offering a better Internet experience with with each generation plus they have built-in connectivity. Netbooks aren’t too big or too heavy. Hmmm….  I’m starting to think that MIDs in their original form are going the way of the UMPC. I’m trying to think about this from the mainstream consumer point of view… not as the mobile tech addict that I really am. Thoughts as they relate to you as a mobile tech maven or as an everyday consumer?



One word – connectivity.

MIDs are hard to accept due to connectivity. when you get an iPhone, Instinct, N800 co-branded with the connectivity of a wireless carrier then it makes sense.

The secondary word is price. No one is going to pay for a MID even with connectivity for its price when a cell phone with internet capability costs less and includes the ability to make phone calls.

The third reason is upgrading. phone people don’t think twice on upgrading their phones for better features , faster processing, better data connect speeds; but a MID is considered a computer and if you want the HSDPA connection or WiMax the you would need to upgrade the MID at a substantial cost with hassle of transferring data. This does not even cover the fact of upgrading for the faster processors improved hardware. So it still come back to price with other things like form factor and battery life rounding it out.

Last thing to think about is repair. When you have a technical malfunction, drop, or obliterate your phone your down time is minimal and 9 times out of ten you get either a new phone (of the same type) or have the opportunity to upgrade to the newer one or change to a different phone entirely. Even buying a whole new phone is not very expensive. MIDs are computers and we all know we would never be able to easily, conveniently, or cost effectively be able to rebound from a catastrophic failure like a phone would.

Just some thoughts from a “consumer” point of view.


We saw phones and PDAs merge. We’ll eventually see phones become even more than they are right now.

Heck, we may eventually see the keyboard and mouse go away!


Eve N

Linux is very scalable regarding power and functionality. Since many people still use Windows, it is hard for them to get what a particular device does and what not. Now, as a marketing person, try to get a clear message out.
I’m also not shure if putting devices in boxes like UMPC/MID/Netbook/whatever is going to work. You have to invent a new category for every device which takes new paths or just put it randomly in an existing one. Maybe most geeks lack an intelligible way of communicating to non-geeks.
Of course this might just be an additional barrier.


Methinks MIDs would/could still have a chance to win mindshare and marketshare if:

(a) They were easily available for purchase. Many were announced eons ago and are still not in channel.
(b) They were reasonably priced, say $ 200 – 400
(c) A portable foldaway keyboard (preferably bluetooth) were offered as a standard accessory. That is, for those without integrated keyboards.
(d) Battery life was ‘reasonable’. Many definitions apply here.


For me, I’ve found the perfect trinity. I use my iPhone for all-the-time anywhere access to information. I carry it everywhere and the combo of Safari and multitouch makes it ideal; I can do everything from banking to Wikipedia searches and more.

For on-the-go content creation, I have my HP2133. 2.2 lbs, 5 hrs of battery life, 160GB of space… it’s everything I need in terms for on the road content creation, which for me means text (screenplays, business docs, etc.), and it weighs so little I don’t even know it’s in my bag.

Then I have my dual-monitor, 4TB storage, quad-core desktop system for heavy lifting (video, Photoshop, etc.)

The thing is, this is an end-to-end solution base. There’s no room for a MID; the gaps are all filled.


Too expensive and too small screens.

The Techcrunch tablet (if it comes out) would sell like crazy.

Give me a letter sized touchscreen, instant on, decent battery and a price for under $200.
I would buy 3 as presents to family members.

Essentially the Amazon Kindle with a color screen, touch and no internet connection to pay for.


im quite happy with my no-windows, no-phone N800.

but then im a geek/nerd that have no problem doing bluetooth pairing (i keep bumping into people that get the device lock pin and the bluetooth pairing pin mixed up for whatever reason), or other stuff like that.

the avarage human seems to be much better at plugging plug A into matching socket B (no wonder really, as its the kind of shape matching that we learn early on thanks to childrens toys), then keeping in mind that after bluetooth have been turned on at both sides and one initiate search for new devices on one of those, the pin being entered has to match on both sides for the paring to finish…

but then i also keep thinking that people would be better of with a network connected typewriter then a full computer most of the time (given the tasks performed and so on)…

trick is, how do one remove control while keeping the illusion of c


I agreed with this point of view until I went to Beijing, and I noticed people use MID devices on the train. So maybe they’ve got potential in Asia. But not, IMO Europe or USA


more like linux is unfamiliar to the wintel “gurus” out there that have spent their lives using visual studio…


In all honesty whom of you would of loved to have had a Nokia N810, makes calls and yet run windows xp on it to run normal applications?

Would you feel its still too big or just about as big as you would go on a portable device that can do it all?


It’s all about software. Microsoft didn’t step up. Linux sucks to develop on. Apple stole the show by creating an OS and SDK that’s easy to use.

Trent Rossey

MIDs, IPhones, UMPCs, Tablet PCs. Netbooks, Smart Phones, WIFI PMPs, PDAs, and Laptops. Wow, how many protable devices (with lots of blurry crossover) can exist together in a market and survive? Geeks love all this, but we can’t support all of these devices. Most of the non-geeks I know don’t know what 3/4 of these things are or are able to make sense of or use the ones they do know.

Its no wonder these devices come and go so quickly. The biggest problem I see is that someone has a great idea for a device but little or no understanding of how to market it to the general public. I can’t remember that last cool TV or Magazine advertisement I’ve seen for 1/2 of the above list of items.

Let’s face it, if you can’t explain it to the general public or really differentiate it (like was done with the IPhone) from other business tools/toys, few will buy it and it will die.

lets just say it for what it is, the computer companies dont want any of these new products to undermine existing ones.

also, i suspect many of the companies where not used to the level of software work needed.

rather then just grabbing pre-packaged os A, slap on drivers B, C and D, and imaging it over their product line, they have to come up with the UI and all.

thats why we see asus use xandros, acer use linpus and dell use ubuntu, those 3 replace microsoft as the os supplier.

until we see something similar for mid (and i would suspect that the ubuntu netbook remix is a potential starting point) it will be slow going for all companies not used to do anything but repackage windows.


I forgot to mention…

There were two big candidates that were very close…

The Nokia N810… all it was missing was a way to make cell phone calls

Same goes for the HTC Shift, heck that device had dual booting from Vista to Win Mobile (stripped down version)


The thing is,

Yes MID has come a bit late into the game since Netbooks filled in that gap.

Most of these MID’s run Linux, where people want Windows XP.

If the MID does run Windows, the processor most of the time is the slow 800mhz version of ATOM.

If only there was a way to make the Lenovo U8 Ideapad into a cell phone, then you may have a niche there!

Steve Paine

Nicely written.

I don’t think Intel MIDs ever really had a chance for consumer stardom but they do have a chance to hit the PMP crowd and make waves. Archos see that too.

@Michael. Yes, Intel MIDs havent really lived yet but dont you see a market for media devices with true, fast, desktop-style internet? A bit like the iPhone 3G and Archos 5G? The are MIDs and if Intel can get their partners up to speed, there’s opportunbity there.

I keep my fingers crossed that someone, somewhere will continue what Apple and Archos are doing in the MID market. If Intel joing the party then fine, If not, then i’m sure others will fill the void.

Jason Johnson

They are definitely dying off (excluding the iphone but that is phone not just a MID). I think the main problem was the price when they were introduced. At $400 it is just to much for the scaled down functionality. Even a gadget oriented person like myself avoided purchasing until the N800 reached the $200 mark. What I don’t understand is why Apple is not playing up more of the MID functionality of the iPod touch which would appeal to the business market and instead going for the gaming market.


Hahahaha. Silly Kevin. They aren’t dieing a slow death. they were NEVER alive to die. It was just a bad idea that someone never caught on wasn’t going to work. iphone==good idea… other mids==not so much. too must cost, not enough function and just not wanted.

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