Round Table: Think small.
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.