Is it time for an Android netbook/smartphone modular system?

air_automobiles_184349The article noting how the ever more powerful smartphone and the netbook/ notebook are sharing a lot of DNA these days leads me to question if it’s time to think about a modular netbook.  We’re hearing a lot of talk about Android-powered netbooks coming down the pike and the thought of a modular phone/netbook combo gets my juices going.

The concept of a smartphone-powered little notebook is not new, Palm almost jumped into the Foleo a while back, and we’ve noted the Celio Redfly is pretty useful.  Where I think both of those devices missed the mark was in keeping the netbook part of the equation totally separate from the smartphone.  You had to have the smartphone (which was not included) to get any benefit from the netbook side, and that ended up being very expensive.

Android phones are poised for takeoff. The T-Mobile G1 has been a decent seller from all indications and other OEMs are supposedly hard at work on other phones.  This is taking place at a time when ARM-powered netbooks running the Android OS are also being discussed as it is deemed a good platform for such devices.

Since Android is a good platform for smartphones and we believe could be equally good on netbooks, why not create a modular netbook that uses the smartphone for processing power?  Many smartphones are ARM-powered and big advances in this mobile platform could make this a feasible concept.  The netbook could have an integrated dock in the unit where you pop the phone in and have an “instant netbook.”

The Android OS could be expanded to handle the phone when it’s just a phone and yet offer a netbook experience when it’s docked in the bigger device.  What would have to happen to make this work is the modular system should be sold together, phone and netbook, and the pricing be in the netbook range.  It might be a bit more expensive than these cheap netbooks but not too much more.

The beauty of this modular concept is it in effect gives you an upgradable netbook.  As the phone part of the equation evolves, you can pick a more advanced one up for a decent price, which immediately also upgrades the netbook.  Faster processors could be added on the fly.  This extends the life of the netbook in the easiest way possible and also keeps you using the latest and greatest phone.  Win-win.

I’m no hardware engineer so I can’t say if the netbook side should have its own memory and storage but probably so.  The phone could then have a large enough memory store that lets the user carry all their documents and files with them in the phone yet have them instantly on the netbook when the phone is popped in the dock.

I am interested to hear your thoughts about this concept.  Would you be interested in such an Android-based modular netbook?  What do you think the pricing would have to look like to capture your attention?  If you are savvy about the hardware side of this type of thing what would be the issues in your opinion?


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