Smart, High-Quality, dedicated, Focused. And that’s just the buyers!

Posted on 12 December 2008, Last updated on 14 December 2008 by

Why is it that the media, online and offline, thinks that UMPC/MID segment is a failure due to smartphones and netbooks? Lack of understanding perhaps? Or am I just feeling sad and bruised from the the kicking the segment gets?

There are more products in the ‘pro-mobility’ segment than ever. There’s more awareness than ever and as prices come down and feature-levels rise, there’s more happy customers than ever. In the world of online reporting, there’s always the desire to highlight a possible failure because, in general, it makes for simple reporting but how uneducated do you have to be to declare a device segment a failure by comparing sales numbers in a different market segment? Maybe ‘uneducated’ is the wrong word and its just deft reporting and marketing skills.

It’s not up to us to define success, it’s up to the manufacturers and the customers buying the products. Take Samsung for example. Their ultra mobile PC projects were, after just 100,000 sales, successful. Look at companies like Paceblade and Tablet Kiosk. Do you see them crying because the Amtek T770 didn’t outsell the Nokia N95? Look at the specialist retailers too. The number of them is increasing and none of this is happening because the Acer Aspire sold X million or because the latest Nokia smartphone has a 3.5″ screen. It’s because they know that the focused, leading edge customers are still there and understand what it means to buy the best tool for the job. Swiss Army knives sell well but it doesn’t mean that craft knives are a failure. [continued..]

I’ll never forget something I learned in a business startup course I did abut 20 years ago We were told that raising the price of a product focuses the number of customers down into a niche segment but if you do it to the correct level, it maximises profits due to reduced sales and support costs. It also reduces investment risk. ultra mobile PC manufacturers know exactly what they are trying to achieve when they price a niche device at $1500.  The last time I looked at making a ultra mobile PC (yes, I’ve been down that road a few times) the break-even point for my project was something like 100,000 devices. This was based on being able to target the niche market of people who valued, and were prepared to pay for, the features offered. 100,000 pieces is nothing compared to smartphones and netbooks and laptops, but it wouldn’t have been a failure. Smartphone sales could have doubled during the sales period; netbooks could have been given away for for free, Engadget could have bashed it around the shop. It wouldn’t have mattered because I was aiming to target my product into a niche.

From time to time I can’t take any more of people saying that this MID will ‘fail’ due to smartphones or that a given tablet ultra mobile PC is ‘dead’ because netbooks have keyboards. Failure is just not something most of us have the inside knowledge to understand and making such a statement is simply dumb for the reasons I mention above! Normally I brush this negativity off but from time to time it’s time [oops. Time to spend more time proof-reading!] to stand up for the readers of UMPCPortal who, I suspect, are just the type of people that know what they want and are here to find their dream device.

DSLR users will understand what I’m talking about. PMP fans will understand. DAP fans will understand. HDTV fans will understand. People driving hybrid cars will understand. Success is up to the manufacturer and buyer. Long live smart, high-quality, dedicated and focused products and the people that buy them.

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