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

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.

11 Comments For This Post

  1. Marc G says:

    [round of applause!]

  2. deriuqer says:


  3. tal says:

    Not everyone Chippy :) I can’t help feeling like being one of those dumb people. I think that I have earned it with my comments here in the past. So I take your criticism joyfully. And you might be right too about the business definition of success, I have no argue with that. It is just that you might be on the other hand as the editor here just a little bit biased with your own (charming if I may add) love to high end dedicated devices. And I think that on the same reason you are still missing the huge difference between the UMPCs and MIDs situation. As Smartphones are not “there” yet, MIDs pose the only reflection we have today into the next evolutionary step of pocketable devices. The interest there is huge. On the other hand UMPCs are as you say simply niche devices for pro high-end users, and trying to compare apples and oranges is usually non-successful, resulting in dumb comments such as myselkf from few days ago regarding the “dead” UMPC market. But putting apples and oranges on the same scale is part of that problem too. I hope that I have managed to make my argument understandable (long day here).

    And regardless I love your passion and this site and really like to disagree too :) And you are right … my dream device would be a high-end 8.9-10″ netbook with swivel touch which would not cost more that 800$ (m912m is not quite there but I would have bought it if it was available with 6cell).


  4. admin says:

    Thanks for the detailed response.

    I too believe that MIDs will be a strong consumer category. Bigger (in the numbers) than the trad. UMPCs thats for sure.

    Today’s rant was simply a badly-needed smack-down to short-form authors that clearly don’t have the time to think about the big picture.

    No products is dead until the manufacturer AND potential customers say so. Right?


  5. alfa says:

    What is the niche for 7″ UMPC’s when netbooks will have the same weight and speed?

  6. admin says:

    Good question Alfa.

    I believe there’s a huge difference between an 800gm and 1200gm device when it comes to mobile use. Sofa, bed, standing-up, thumbing, touch are just a few keywords. Dont under-estimate the bed and sofa scenarios!


  7. voltron says:

    I don’t understand why people like netbooks so much. They can’t be put in your pocket so you have to carry a bag or keep it under your arm. You might as well just get a 12-15″ laptop. MIDs on the other hand can fit in your pocket and literally go with you everywhere. I carry my n810 with me everywhere I go and I’m probably going to get the 3g Aigo MID. If they actually spent money advertising MIDs people would go nuts over them. Maybe we need apple to make a MID to get the hype going as sad as that is.

  8. nomax says:

    For me, even a 1000H was too bulky to carry around every day, so yes, I would prefer a smaller (yet bigger than a smartphone) device.

    I think the popularity of smartphones (which cannot deliver the “real” web yet, if we are honest) is based on the one vs. two devices question. *If* Apple would really go the path of a supersized iPhone without the current shortcomings a slide-out keyboard the whole concepot of MIDs would get a huge boost.

  9. minuz says:

    for me the dream device is the everun note with swivel touch and 3.5g enabled for data and VOICE with almost 9h of standby. a little example for my dream device is the miu hdpc, you can see this device

  10. Sarig says:

    It’s been a year, and it seems this article could’ve been written today. Strange times :)

  11. Diedre Kroll says:

    Lach, sehr gut. Komme nun öfters.

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