Check Out The Muddled MID Market

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There is a growing category of devices that fall into the range of laptops and Smartphones. This is not a new area, over the years there have been various incarnations, most recently Microsoft’s ultramobile PC peripherals, originally known as Origami. Today, Intel is the one talking about this area, pushing what it calls the centers, or mobile internet devices. Well, all this is good – but what is a middle?

Honestly, MID is an Intel marketing term coined around 2008. In a 2008 Engadget article, Intel’s Dan Monahan described centers with the following attributes:

  • Consumer-class Lifestyle devices
  • Runs a “lightweight” operating system with a fast boot like Linux
  • Optimized for things like media playback and Internet browsing
  • In 2009 (or something like that), Moorestown-based devices are classified only as intermediate

And Intel is aggressive when it comes to Centers – the company showed so many UMID devices at the IDF last week that they would have thought they belonged to Intel’s most strategic and important customers. But it is clear that the definition has changed over time, because the IDF centers did not correspond to the specifications that Mr. Monahan spoke about in 2008. These devices all ran on Windows and were really scaled-down models of Netbooks. And even if they were incredibly small, let’s face it-I’m really skeptical about the future of this class of devices, apart from Intel’s aspirations.
On the one hand, this class of devices – often called Tweener – has never performed well in the past. For years, people have tried to connect the laptop and the phone with something in the middle, and it just didn’t work. I don’t see anything in any of these circles that could change that.

Secondly, there is a limit to the number of devices that consumers will wear. For most consumers, this is two and a maximum of three. A MID must therefore give up something else in the hierarchy of a user’s functions. If the centers are just one more thing that a user has to wear, they will not wear it. New generations of PCs running Windows may seem like they need to replace your laptop, but if you can’t replace it, you will fail.

Let’s not forget that the price is also a big topic. Dynamism is selling the UMID mbook M1. This is for an Atom processor, 512 MB of RAM and 16 GB of memory for a computer that does not run on Windows with high performance or ease of use. One of my long-standing consumer electronics laws is that there is a global market for 50,000 of everything when it comes to Gadgets. In the middle, however, it does not even seem that there is one for all that. DigiTimes recently reported sales of only 30,000 MIDs worldwide compared to the 150,000 – 200,000 units estimated by Intel. Intel claims that the low sales are due to the global economic slowdown, but I agree with Thomas Ricker’s opinion: consumers do not want a device that is too big for the pocket, offering fewer features than a Netbook and a price comparable to that of a laptop. Adding telephony to the Mix, as Intel announced with Moblin 2.1. this will not change at all.

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