Are we seeing the next big (or even small) trend in mobile technology? Motorola
recently shook up the space with their Atrix 4G, an AT&T
smartphone that did something that no other smartphone had done before.
Rather than shipping by its lonesome, the Atrix
4G shipped with an
optional docking station, which is really a brain-less netbook shell.
Pop the Atrix 4G into the dock slot, and suddenly you've got an
Android-powered computer. What's funny is that this is history repeating
itself all over again, but the timing may be better now. Palm's Foleo
was similar to this, and it was spiked before ever coming to market.
Celio's REDFLY was also similar, but sales were evidently lackluster.
But now, mobility is king, and not only that, but mobile chipsets are
vastly more powerful than in years past. Only time will tell if the
Atrix 4G dock will be a hot seller, but it's already looking like that
may be the case. Moto has just confirmed that all of their future
high-end smartphones will pair with a dock using the Webtop OS overlay,
allowing them to quickly be converted into a "computer" at a moment's
notice. The company's CEO was responsible for spilling the beans; here's
Sanjay Jha's exact quote: "You will see this across our portfolio of
high-tier smartphones. What we're trying to do is recognize that the
smartphone really works
extremely well for 80 percent of the time but sometimes you need a
bigger display and a larger keyboard."
He's right. Every so often the smartphone just feels cramped, and there
are definitely times where a larger screen and keyboard would come in
handy. But we still aren't convinced that a smartphone docking station
is the easiest way to do it. Tablets are already thin and work on their
own; netbooks are tiny and use a full-scale desktop OS. Will people
actually flock to yet another mobility option? Many have tried and
failed; we guess it's time to see if Motorola struck when the iron was