An interesting article over at PCMag.com has author Tim Bajarin asking “Who would want to buy a Mobile Internet Device?”. Throughout the article, Tim explains that he doesn’t quite see the function of a MID, or how it might fit a consumer’s needs.
After reading the article, I think this is another example of how over-defining a category can confuse consumers, and even those who closely follow news in the market. This is another question of who is defining what, but it really comes down to what the consumers think. Tim says that MIDs are trying to fit into a product class gap that isn’t really large enough. He describes the MID category as a ‘tweener’, or something that is in between two already well defined device categories. In the case of the MID, Tim says the flanking devices are the laptop and smartphone.
But I’m still not convinced that the MID as defined today will ever become a booming market. All of the virtues of a MID actually ended up in smartphones, which became the killer mobile category.
If you really think about it, Tim seems to be saying that MIDs are just phone-less smartphones. But what about those with WWAN? If a MID can make a VoIP call over WWAN, is it then a smartphone? It would seem as though MIDs are moving in the direction of smartphones, but are more powerful, and share more of their genes with the computer. With full fledged applications, a stronger web browsing experience, and the ability to make calls (via WWAN), it sounds like the MID is actually a much more capable device than the smart phone.
I find it interesting that Tim mentions his iPhone in the article as his go-to mobile device. I actually consider the iPhone to be, not only a MID, but one of the best MIDs currently on the market (partially helped by the fact that most MIDs haven’t hit the market yet!). The fact that the iPhone offers a much richer and fuller internet experience than most other smartphones (if you want to call it that) bumps it up from the smartphone category and into the Mobile Internet Device (in my opinion). The iPhone is almost the inverse of a smartphone; it isn’t a phone that happens to be able to browse the internet, it is a Mobile Internet Device that happens to be able to make phone calls.
In a time such as now where most smartphones aren’t exactly the best convergence devices, touting around a very powerful MID for internet consumption, and a decent feature phone, sounds like a good strategy to me. And what say you readers, why would you buy a MID?