Mobile-Centered, Disruption in Focus

N9 Meets N950 (Devices On)
I’ve not has as much time lately to write, but that’s not really stopped my thoughts concerning mobile tech and its various PC manifestations. Having moved to the Nokia N9, I’m in one respect thinking of computing in a more fluid capacity (that will come in a later Everything N9), but in another, I’m thinking like BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, that there might not be as much a place for tablets, as much there is a response to a computing with screens that move with you.

Now, I’m a weird case. I’ve been pursing this mobile-mainly lifestyle for a long time. So, I can see some truths in Heins’ statements. I can also understand why many of the louder comments from the tech press has been against such an evolution of personal computing. Granted, many of those writing about computing come from perspectives like mine – either living under a managed computing roof (enterprise or fund-limited IT shops) or self-managed computing (either the decision maker or an entreprenur who makes the call as to what tech works). Both of those views have affirmations and challenges with the idea that mobile-centered computing is a suitable evolution. Problem is, I don’t know that either of those camps look at computing like those who see computing only in the confines of time and getting things done.

I’ll use the example of some work I do with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. Those who work with the branch are usually in the situation of having a work computer that’s given, that has a support team/person behind that, and generally, aged hardware that works just enough to get things done. The members I interact with many times come from the perspective that computing is a means to an end, and so pulling up info on a mobile phone or tablet, and not spending much more time with it other than Facebook/YouTube/Netflix/games, pretty much is the end of it. I dig both, but prefer the latter as its just a bit more malleable to life.

The quote from Mr Heins goes as such:

“In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” Heins said in an interview yesterday at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles. “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

[via Bloomberg/CrackBerry, Rene Ritchie]

I get where he could say that tablets aren’t a good business model. And they aren’t, if you are in a business model where subscriptions, enterprise bulk sales, support services, and managed services are where you make hay. To not have as strong a brand affiliation towards certain kinds of [vertical] apps, or being associated more with the computing that’s assigned to you rather than what you choose. In a real sense, unless its a 5-6in phone (aka, a phablet like Samsung’s Galaxy Note II), you just won’t get into that tablet space enough for it to count. So, you have to think and do differently. And I think BlackBerry is.

For years, I’ve been on the side of wanting and pushing myself to do things from my mobile device that are just along this line. And honestly, I probably should want a Z10 or similar device (BlackBerry, only if you are willing to give me one, I won’t buy one from a carrier). But, to do what Heins suggests, BlackBerry needs to become the kind of manufacturer who makes accessories that are worth having. For me, I won’t use a headset that’s not a Nokia one – they do sound and accessory design really well. I am on my second Apple Bluetooth Wireless keyboard, because its about as solid a wireless keyboard as it gets. BlackBerry would need to come up with monitors, keyboards, projectors, and other accessories that entice prospective customers that purchasing into the BlackBerry world is like a Christmas list, not a single wish.

It can be done. If BlackBerry made it possible for me to formulate the kind of argument to ditch my iPad and Kindle Fire HD (while still drawing), and then made watching TV, doing presentations, and collaborating via mobile, then yes, I agree. 5 years time is more than enough time to make such a thing happen. But, I don’t know that Heins was speaking to every mobile user, just those that fit their specific audience. For those folks, just like the folks I work alongside at the YMCA, managed computing is ripe for that kind f disruption.