More Smartphones at SXSW Mean Less Laptop Lugging


img00003In an interesting post over at GigaOM, Stacey Higginbotham notes that at the SXSW conference this year, there were far fewer notebooks on display and, correspondingly, a much larger number of people were using smartphones to stay connected.

This certainly tallies with my experience since owning an iPhone, in that I’m far more likely to only tote my phone and not bring my laptop if all I need to do is keep an eye on emails and a few feeds. While at a conference, especially, I’d far rather not be lugging around a notebook when I can keep up to date via email, Twitter and RSS on my phone. Having to carry it around all day is one thing, but also the point of a conference, for me, is to get out and connect with people, something that’s much harder to do if I’m stuck behind my notebook screen, tapping away.

Unfortunately, I can’t use my iPhone as a general-purpose mobile device for doing “real” work: the screen is too small and the keyboard is inadequate for large amounts of typing. So I’m not ready to drop my notebook altogether just yet. But in situations where all I need to do is stay up to date, answer a few emails or maybe catch up on a little reading (via the excellent Instapaper app for the iPhone), say while on a train journey or at a conference, it’s great to be free of having to lug my notebook everywhere — something that I couldn’t have imagined just a couple of short years ago. Maybe in a few years smartphones will have gotten so good that I won’t need to bring a notebook with me at all.

Have you noticed that better smartphones mean that you don’t need to carry your notebook with you as much?


Jonathan Ruttenberg

Going mobile is certainly an exciting trend and I totally empathize with the notion of using smart phones when possible but as said, unfortunately the screen is just not big enough for bigger tasks.

You may be interested to know that my company, LaptopsAnytime, has developed self-service laptop dispensing kiosks so that people can avoid having to lug along their laptops everywhere they go. We will be installing stations at Universities and Libraries later this Winter/Spring. Perhaps, we will also hit the tradeshow circuit for weary attendees in the not-to-distant future.

Our site is

Jonathan Ruttenberg
Co-Founder, LaptopsAnytime


I still like to live blog the panels I attend, which is difficult on an iPhone. There was so much Tweeting about the panels this year, that live blogging panels may be an artifact of the past. I certainly considered going computerless this year, but decided it was worth the effort. Maybe next year will be different.


This has certainly been my experience. I’m an academic technology consultant at Duke – so I’ve been to my share of conference lugging a laptop around (along with a power cord, notepad, usb keys, ipods, etc). This year, I attended the Educause Learning Initiative conference, and decided to just take my iPhone.

I wrote a post about this on our blog link to blog post. Twitter was a huge help with this – as I didn’t have to type many of the notes I usually would for various sessions, but instead just ‘favorited’ tweets that others (or I myself) wrote during sessions. Later I went back and reviewed them, looked up the links, etc. Evernote was really useful in a similar capacity, as well.

Chris Ritke

I’m in the middle of a little experiment that’s similar: I canceled my cell phone and now use an Eee PC when I’m on the road – with skype in and out. It’s actually nice not being connected every now and then – but there’s always that mad rush to find Wifi somewhere.

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