Phillip Redman

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Phillip Redman
Research VP
10 years at Gartner
17 years IT industry

Phillip Redman is a research vice president in Gartner Research, where he leads mobile research in the network services and infrastructure group. Mr. Redman brings almost 15 years of experience in the wireless mobile and telecommunications industry… . Read Full Bio

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New Tablets More Smartphone Than PC

by Phillip Redman  |  September 29, 2010  |  9 Comments

It used to be that everyone wanted the smallest.  Phone that is.  The race to reduce the size and weight was started by the Motorola StarTAC.  Everyone wanted (and had) one.  Even smaller and lighter phones came out.  But that’s ended. Now there’s a race to the biggest.  Many of the almost dozen new tablets coming out are less like PCs and more like smartphones because of their small size.  Many of the new tablets coming out are about 7″ long by 2″ or 3″ wide–as exemplified by RIM’s PlayBook it announced Monday or Dell’s Streak it announced last month.  The manufacturers want them to fall under the tablet category, but they are really too small to be tablets.  In my opinion, the tablet is moving to become a PC without the hard keyboard–so a soft keyboard is needed.  For that 10″ is the minimum.  These devices 7″ or smaller are really big smartphones.  RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis even implied that in his speech on Monday saying RIM customers have been asking them to “amplify the BlackBerry.”  I’m OK with that, to each his own.  In fact I wouldn’t mind seeing the iPhone get a little bigger by an inch on each side.  It would be easier to use but still simple to carry in a pocket or purse.  And that is the key here.

Real tablets are moving to replace notebook PCs for some, one day.  The functionality is not there yet today.  I know, I have been using an Apple iPad for two months now.  It’s a great connected device, but not as good when not connected to the network.  To support real mobility it needs to have better offline functionality.  To be a better PC it needs a whole lot of things like increased memory, USB slot, faster processor, Windows application compatibility etc.  If it had the same functionality of my work PC in a slim and light form factor, I’d dump the hard keyboard in a second.  But Apple and others are not there yet.  In the end, there are going to be many attempts at finding the right shape and size of smartphones and tablets–and a lot of failed products.  But those thinking anything 7″ and below is a tablet are wrong, it’s just a really big phone.

9 Comments »

Category: Apple iPhone mobile phones Tablet     Tags:

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hyoun Park   September 29, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I agree! My rule-of-thumb:
    use one hand = phone
    use two hands = tablet

    Of course, as analysts, we’ll get stuck having to create somewhat convoluted definitions to help the market, but that’s all I got for now!

  • 2 Ryan Alban   September 29, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I think we need to advance the conversation to a new device framework. Phones and PC’s are form factors of the last century.
    Perhaps:
    Fixed/Stationary Computing (desktops, internet TV’s, etc.,)
    Portable Computing (notebooks, netbooks, 9″ tablets)
    Mobile Computing (7″ tablets, MIDs)
    Communications Device (feature phones, smartphones)

    PC’s and TV’s are hardly ever moved, they are task-oriented machines. You go to the machine to perform certain tasks, and leave the machine when your tasks are complete. For lack of better terms, PC’s are for “stationary computing.”

    The 9″ tablet is too big and heavy to fit comfortably in your pocket (or purse), and too big and heavy to take everywhere. I see people using iPads at their desks, on planes, lounges, and other stationary places; but I don’t see people using iPad’s on-the-move or standing in line at the coffee shop. Because You use it in a stationary setting and you take it to some places; for me it is a portable device, but not a mobile device.

    A lightweight 7″ tablet can be carried in a jacket pocket or comfortably in one hand with other objects. You could hold and use it while standing or on-the-move. It is small enough that you would take it to more places than a heavier 9″ device, but you still won’t take it everywhere (so it’s not quite a communications device).

    The modern smartphone has evolved to become a “communication device,” an always-on, pocket-size device we take everywhere to stay connected to all of our communication channels (phone, e-mail, IM, social networks, etc.,). The least used task of my smartphone is the actual phone. I use it more for IM, social networks, and news consumption than I do for PSTN phone calls.

    RIM’s device is interesting as a stand-alone tablet, but what could really distinguish it from other 7″ devices is the interaction between the tablet and the smartphone (and the tablet and fixed/stationary computing environments). You increase the utility of both devices by having them complement each other to perform tasks you otherwise couldn’t with either device alone. RIM can’t simply be looking to have the PlayBook be a larger UI to a BlackBerry and a stand-alone tablet, RIM needs to allow two-screen mobile computing where both devices are utilized (e.g., a webmeeting running on the PlayBook screen, and the conference participant control panel on the BlackBerry).

  • 3 Phillip Redman   September 29, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Absolutely. In fact we are moving away from the word “smartphone” at Gartner (though I don’t know if we have a suitable replacement yet, IMO) since it doesn’t have much meaning anymore–if it ever did. See our notebook PC (notebook are PCs after all) segmentation in this great piece: “Notebook PCs: Technology Overview” from Leslie Fiering this February and on mobile devices here, “Dataquest Insight: Cellular MIDs Are Evolving From Smartphones” and “Forecast Analysis: Mobile Devices, Worldwide, 2003-2014, 2Q10 Update” by Carolina Milanesi.

  • 4 The Technology newsbucket: Digg’s dying, BT’s fibre, Asteroids everywhere and more | UmeedainTimes.com   September 30, 2010 at 2:02 am

    [...] New Tablets More Smartphones Than PCs >> Gartner Blog“In my opinion, the tablet is moving to become a PC without the hard keyboard–so a soft keyboard is needed. For that 10″ is the minimum. These devices 7″ or smaller are really big smartphones.” [...]

  • 5 The Technology newsbucket: Digg’s dying, BT’s fibre, Asteroids everywhere and more | Tech Toinks!   September 30, 2010 at 5:40 am

    [...] New Tablets More Smartphones Than PCs >> Gartner Blog“In my opinion, the tablet is moving to become a PC without the hard keyboard–so a soft keyboard is needed. For that 10″ is the minimum. These devices 7″ or smaller are really big smartphones.” [...]

  • 6 The Technology newsbucket: Digg’s dying, BT’s fibre, Asteroids everywhere and more | Tech Blog   September 30, 2010 at 7:17 am

    [...] New Tablets More Smartphones Than PCs >> Gartner Blog“In my opinion, the tablet is moving to become a PC without the hard keyboard–so a soft keyboard is needed. For that 10″ is the minimum. These devices 7″ or smaller are really big smartphones.” [...]

  • 7 The Technology newsbucket: Digg’s dying, BT’s fibre, Asteroids everywhere and more | Teh Lolz   October 1, 2010 at 8:57 am

    [...] New Tablets More Smartphones Than PCs >> Gartner Blog“In my opinion, the tablet is moving to become a PC without the hard keyboard–so a soft keyboard is needed. For that 10″ is the minimum. These devices 7″ or smaller are really big smartphones.” [...]

  • 8 Gartner-Analyst Redman: “Neue Tablets sind eher große Smartphones” - Apfel-Freakz   October 1, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    [...] sind eigentlich nur große Smartphones – das findet Gartner-Analyst Phillip Redman. In seinem Blogeintragerörtert er zudem, wie sich der Trend umgekehrt hat: von möglichst kleinen Telefonen hin wieder zu [...]

  • 9 World Wide News Flash   October 2, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    New Tablets More Smartphone Than PC…

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