UMPC-Lite and other UMPC terms.

Updated on 22 May 2015

Its getting almost impossible to choose the right terms and labels for the consumer based ultra mobile PC segment without upsetting someone now. I’ve just been responding to a thread of comments about the N800 where we were talking about whether the N800 should be called a ultra mobile PC or not and here’s what I wrote:

It does become confusing doesn’t it. Should a device with a desktop operating system that has a restricted UI be classed as a separate device? If it works, does it matter what processor it has?
Currently I call the N800 a sub-umpc but to a consumer its going to look similar to an x86 device running Ubuntu Mobile in three months.
Are we going to call MID’s UMPCs (bear in mind that you only need to install XP and its a UMPC!)
I tend to think that for the sake of the market, we should always use the term ultra mobile PC somewhere. Nokia is using this technique of calling its mobile devices ‘computers’ too.
I think its more important to choose a term for marketings sake than on technical grounds.


Image from Pocketables.net

…and then 5 minutes later I picked up on a really nice article that Jenn wrote over at Pocketables. She’s calling the iPhone a ‘UMPC-lite’ device. She says that a UMPC-Lite device is simply a MID (mobile Internet device as defined by Intel) with an ARM processor. A desktop operating system on an ARM processor with a consumer optimized user interface and application-set. I like it. There are some things to think about though…

  • Some people would say that restricting  a user user interface means its not a PC? Hey, all user interfaces are restricted and in fact originally, PC’s never even had a GUI, just command line interfaces. My iPaq H2210 can run Linux and do that much better than my old PC could. Is my PocketPC a PC?
  • If I ran my ultra mobile PC using Origami Experience alone, does it mean its not a UMPC?
  • If I take a full Linux operating system and port it over lock, stock and barrel, to an mobile ARM device and get it running smoothly, would it be a UMPC? If I did the same with, say, OS-X, would it be a UMPC?
  • Nokia call their N-Series ‘Multimedia Computers.’ is that wrong?
  • If the consumer decides that they prefer the fun user interface and presentation-method that the iPhone uses, why should we bother to re-create a traditional Internet experience on a consumer focused UMPC? Fun could be more important than function to the consumer and could create more sales. (See iPhone)
  • If Nokia released a communicator running Internet tablet software on an x86 processor, would it be a smartphone or UMPC?

OK, enough of that! In my eyes, this concept of re-presenting a ‘PC’ to a user in a different form is a good one, especially for consumers, and I like the way that the ‘PC’ term is being used and is moving forward. I also like the way that, for anyone entering the ultra mobile PC market for the first time, the term ultra mobile PC is the dominant term across all sub-segments and I like the way that its separating from its old Origami roots. I think people marketing these ultra-mobile-Internet-communications-and-media-devices (!) need to use the momentum that the term ultra mobile PC has now and to keep on pushing it. Stick with it. Don’t mess around trying to create confusing little pockets of devices with new names. PPC, MID, PIMD etc etc. I see just one split in the market and that’s between the consumer ultra mobile PC and professional UMPC. Consumer UMPCs are optimized to ‘drain’ content from the internetworks and professional UMPCs can ‘source’ content in an efficient way too. Or am I biased because I run UMPCPortal? possibly but its already too late. Google has already linked the term ultra mobile PC with hundreds of devices and of all the terms, this is the only one that’s got momentum. Everyone uses the term UMPC, even if its in a negative sense so if you’re in the business of marketing ultra mobile devices you have to use the term ultra mobile PC in order to get peoples eyes. No-one is searching for ‘MID’ or ‘UPPC’ in search engines. In the last month, 11000 searches ended up on this site by using a search expression with ultra mobile PC in it. In the same period, the number of people reaching me using a search expression with MID in it was just 237. That’s less than the number of people that reached me using the search term ‘jabra bt8010.’

So let me see a show of hands. Should the manufacturers, resellers, promoters and marketeers continue to use ‘UMPC’ and add descriptive terms like ‘sub’, ‘lite’, ‘consumer’, ‘pro’ or should they try to influence Google, confuse custonmers and make up a new name? Come on, lets welcome the iPhone into the (sub/lite) ultra mobile PC fold with open arms, give it a big multi-touch kiss, learn a lot from it and get the Ultra Mobile PC segment developing even faster. Ignoring it is not an option and that’s why i’ll be queueing up for one when it launches in Europe.

Technorati tags: umpc, iphone, arm, smartphone, ,

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