Round Table: Think small. | webOS Nation

Round Table: Think small. 20

by Derek Kessler Mon, 17 Jan 2011 12:51 pm EST

Welcome to Round Table, which is in fact not a table at all. Round Table is a continuing series on PreCentral where we pose a question to the staff and they provide their thoughts and insights. The question could be something simple like “what do you use as a ringtone?” or something a bit more complicated, like “what purpose will webOS serve in a printer?” Or maybe we’ll just end up chatting about the awesomeness of Ikea. Today, however, we’re moving to part two of three of a three-part Round Table series: Think Big. Think Small. Think Beyond.

Adam: If “Think Big” is meant to indicate tablet devices and a strategic vision of the future, “Think small” is meant to be very tactical and very specific. From a device perspective, “Think Small” is clearly meant to refer to their smartphone line of devices, including unveiling what they have mentioned will be the world’s smallest smartphone along with a slew of other devices to compete in today’s crowded marketplace. But, I think that they are also implying that they want to focus on a given user’s experience of managing their day-to-day activities and what is important to them at the lowest level of functionality to building an overall better user experience.

Derek: We’ve heard about this supposed “smallest smartphone ever” a few times (okay, once), and I imagine we’ll get to see it, and I sure hope I’m not disappointed. Small size is great, but if it’s a lackluster experience then there’s not going to be much Palm and any carrier partner can do to push the device to customers (aside from giving it away). But I don’t think that this phone will be the only one we see. My evidence-less suspicion is that Palm will also unveil a new slate phone packed with the most advanced hardware HP could scrape together to take on the likes of the iPhone 4 and the newly-announced Android phones. Small “teen phone” will be available first quarter of 2011, super phone the second quarter. Hopefully early in the second, as waiting too long will whither away the remaining webOS base to nothingness. Though that may be HP’s intention: to start fresh.

Dieter: HP will announce the “teen phone” that’s the “smallest smartphone ever” here. Cool? Maybe - but we saw how well the Pixi managed to sate people’s desire for high-end webOS smartphone hardware. Not at all. Which leaves me troubled - is HP *really* going to make us wait even *longer* for seriously high-end smartphone hardware? If so, this “desert” we’re walking through will seem less like the Sahara and more like Tatooine - a barren land where Jawas are the only people left interested in webOS and the Sarlac pit of the iPhone on Verizon and AT&T sucks up the rest of the interested customers. Sincerely - I am concerned.

Jonathan: Think small: a new family of smartphones, in multiple form factors, including a new, slightly larger and better featured Pre-like slider, a Droid-like slab, and a tiny keyboard-less Pixi replacement with a 320x480 screen. The Pre 2 will be the entry-level device, and priced accordingly.

Mark: Another long awaited day, that of new smartphone hardware - HP hardware no less - is finally here as well. Thinking small in terms of new webOS smartphones has me perplexed as to what we should expect on Feb. 9th. Tom Bradley’s “world’s smallest smartphone” running webOS statement comes to mind here. I think it also likely that we’ll see the first webOS slate phone. Both will likely be available immediately. A roadmap of some of the other “six phones in 2011” may also be unveiled. What I’d really like to see announced, however, is a Pre-like portrait slider sized between the iPhone’s 3.6-inch screen and the Evo’s 4.3-inch screen. Fans (like myself) of the Pre’s form factor may be the only ones a little disappointed on February 9th. Lastly, I want “think small” to mean some forward-thinking hardware, not in terms of form factor, but in terms of capability. I’m not at all confident we’ll be wowed by the power, features, and build quality of the new hardware, I just hope we are. HD, front-facing camera and dual-core CPU in a webOS smartphone please.

Nathan: Think small most likely refers to the announcement of a Pixi 2. It is inevitable that this will be one of the new devices released in 2011. Palm prided itself on the Centro being the world’s smallest smartphone, so they will probably market the new Pixi the same way, which is essentially the successor to the Centro. “Think small” may also refer to the idea of putting webOS on more devices where the OS will not be the purpose for the gadget’s existence but rather a background player, such as the fabled webOS printers and toasters. But that could also fit into the Think Beyond category.

Rizwan: I’m hard pressed to imagine this as being anything other than a replacement for the Pixi. I’m a little apprehensive about this one, because I’m not sure “small” is the way to go. Sure, that’ll distinguish it from the Android JumboPhone onslaught; but I don’t think the backlash from carrying around an obnoxiously big phone is about to happen just yet. Then again, if they’re trying to attract a large audience to the platform, including younger folks with nice hands, multiple form factors is the way to go.

So there's our take on "Think Small." We imagine some of you have different ideas. We're cool with that. In fact, we encourage it. Comments are below, awaiting for your sounding of voice.


I never had a problem carrying around my Treo. Big, if it has a (relationally speaking) big screen and keyboard is good. Small would be good if you could, optionally, plug it into a larger monitor when you needed to see content in all its glory.


I don't want to think small. I want to think large screen and thin device. not small screen and fat like my pre.

Actually, I remember an image that Phil posted not too long ago. The 'small' could be that watch-type gadget that was blanked off of his wrist.

Great comments, Dieter.

I wish I shared Jonathan's optimism. He describes exactly what I hope HP/Palm will do on 2/9, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mark, if those phones are available immediately after 2/9, the world may come to an end and pigs will fly, just so you know. =)

As always, Derek, the realist. What happened to sarcasm today? I miss it, though your comments are probably right on.

Why are people associating small = teens? Sure, it is harder to pack alot into a small device, but the trend in the 90's was for smaller and smaller, and that trend could resurface (especially if folks begin to lug around tablets in addition to a phone).

And small is still popular in Europe, and some domestic demographics. I bet they are going to target it at those groups.

Centro was a big success for Palm. This could be as well.

My thoughts exactly.

A 'Tatooine' reference? Really? Nothing says geek like a Tatooine reference! LMAO!

Bring on the WebOS goodness...Please?

Agreed. Think small..... hmm.... so, the "world's smallest smartphone". Sounds like a gimick in an otherwise large screen dominated industry. How exactly does HP think it will sell a "world's smallest smartphone"?
The Pre basically already fit that category (along with the Pixi and the Centro). And we all know how that turned out.

I hope that when they are speaking of "Thinking Small", that they are referring to a 4" smartphone when compared to "Thinking Big", referring to a tablet. The days of the Pre are done. Slab style, 4" screen, solid build with dev support is required, or the true meaning to "Thinking Small" will be the marketshare that HP/Palm will have by the end of the year.

Nobody else thinks a Dick Tracy -style wristphone - that works exclusively via a Bluetooth headset - would be cool? Even if just as an attention-getter?

Dpaus is right. I really think this "world's smallest smartphone" will be HP's answer to the Ipod Nano. Remember the Twitter teaser photos of Phil Mckinney and his wrist band device...

FEB 9th!! "Nut up or shut up" HPalm... Everybodys flashin the androids around... I'm way over the iBrick (outDATED Hardware)...WE NEED POWERFUL HARWARE!!! Haha like yesterday!

Why would you want a tiny smartphone? Not to sound too much like a geezer, but I can barely read web pages on my Pre as it is. I almost always switch to landscape mode, which has its own annoyance in the form of the short screen requiring lots of scrolling.

If a smartphone is barely usable for internet browsing then why bother? Save your cash and get a 'feature phone'.

If there was a strong market for compact smart phones the Pre and Pixi wouldn't have been also rans.

I think HP is trying to avoid to be just another rectangular 4+ inch phone. There are too many of them and it is hard to stand out. I think if they can make the Pre size phone but thinner, it could be a big hit with normal users. I am interested in getting a small phone.

I am not a fan of large phones in my pocket. The old PocketPC phones are too big. Although Evo and other slab kind of large phones are much thinner, the fact it is long and wide still is a problem for me.

The 'smallest ever' comment is aimed exactly at me.

My wife is at the Verizon 'new at every two' point and there are exactly -0- 'feature' phones available with basic phone, text and low level app's (facef**k) out there that I would think about getting without having to listen to some level of grief.

I would love to get her a Pixi, except that thing has a life expectancy of about two weeks (Feb 9).

What she needs is a Pixi, that's smaller and easier. Fits in her purse. Isn't flashy. Occasionally would check facefrick. Maybe take a picture every blue moon (and upload/ sync it) and sync contacts, email, talk to her mother and other junk.

think small? how about that webOS watch??

"think small" is a way of preparing us to wrap our minds around what HP has in store for us. The play of the worlds smallest smartphone has potential, but the average smartphone user wants to be able to comfortably read and see content on the screen. I have had some probs with certain games, as far as being able to read words. My pre is a good phone, but any smaller and I have to pass, my eyesight sux!! I am more interested in getting the feature phone that HP has in store. I just hope they are trying to put out something for everybody. I hope we are blown away on 2-9. We need it after all of this dead time. And it seems our community needs some life support and ultimately a jump start. Bring it on HP. It's a must!

Perhaps the "watch" and "the smallest" phone will use the new flexible OLED tech to somehow combine readability with convenience. That would be an astounding motif!

Or maybe a flexible OLED wristband is "think beyond" as in whats in store beyond 2011

Why does everyone ONLY think so literal when it comes to "Big" and "Small"? I'm thinking HP is intending it to be rather vague, with broader implications than just screen dimensions. I like Adam's responses to both of these roundtables (Think Big and Think Small)...I think he's grasping this whole thing much better.