First Nokia blended the mobile device and computer experience with its Microsoft partnership. Nokia's entrance into the netbook market with the introduction of the Booklet 3G is just another step that blurs the line (or muddies the water) between computers and mobile devices.
Last week Dell was making similar headlines. The #2, going on #3, computer manufacturer is venturing into the mobile device market. While at face value it may seem unwise to stray into the highly competitive mobile device market while struggling to maintain rank in its core market, I made the point that perhaps Dell is one step ahead. The mobile device is becoming essentially a microcomputing platform which would make it a natural evolution of its core market.
On the other side of the computer-mobile device fence, mobile service providers have offered wireless broadband connectivity for awhile. Mobile users who were previously tethered to a physical network, or had to at least be in proximity of a wireless access point, gained the ability to do their computing from virtually anywhere by connecting with mobile service provider 3G networks.
Providing mobile connectivity, combined with increasingly smaller computers has led to further convergence between the two. Mobile service providers such as Verizon and AT&T have begun offering netbooks as available devices. Mobile customers are able to get a free or deeply discounted netbook, just as they have traditionally received free mobile devices, by committing to a service contract with the mobile provider.
Mobile devices have evolved to use wi-fi access. Portable computers have evolved to connect to the Internet via wireless broadband networks. Mobile devices have increased processing capacity and memory and are essentially computers that fit in your pocket. Portable computers have shrunk to the point that they are basically mobile phones on steroids.
Nokia, the largest mobile device manufacturer in the world, is hedging its bets by playing both sides of the field. It will deliver more productivity and computer-like performance to its mobile devices through its relationship with Microsoft. At the same time, it will deliver more robust mobile computing with the Booklet 3G and be able to still distribute it by leveraging its relationships with mobile service providers.
Where does the netbook end and the smartphone begin? Who knows. More importantly, why care? It is just a sign of the times and a natural evolution of technology. Let's just embrace and enjoy it.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.