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What does “Mobile” mean?

By Jason Grigsby

Published on July 27th, 2009


Tonight at Mobile Portland, there will be a presentation about Moblin. Moblin is an open source operating system for netbooks and mobile internet devices.

This presentation has caused me to reconsider what we mean when we say “mobile?”

Usually when I’m say mobile, I’m talking about almost exclusively about mobile phones. I’m interested in mobile phones because they go everywhere with people and they are nearly always connected to the Internet.

However, it’s not a stretch in any way to think of the iPod Touch as simply an extension of Apple’s iPhone plan. If you forget about the iPod Touch simply because it isn’t a phone, you miss out on a significant number of iPhone OS users.

So if we include the iPod Touch, should we also include devices like the PlayStation Portable which also includes Wi-Fi and Internet browsing?

Photo of PlayStation Portable browser
PlayStation Portable Browser from / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What about Netbooks? Both Moblin and Google Chrome OS are designed to compete for these new devices that place a premium on mobility instead of the horsepower that we’ve become accustom to when thinking about laptop computers.

And why not laptop computers? I was reading article recently that talked about the impact mobility has had on large businesses. The article wasn’t talking about mobile phones. It was focused on laptops instead of desktop machines.

Finally, there are these new devices that aren’t quite phones, but aren’t laptops or netbooks either—the Mobile Internet Device (MIDs).

Photo of MIDs

MIDs from / CC BY-NC 2.0

MIDs are larger than smartphones, but smaller than netbooks and tablets. They often have touchscreens and small keyboards. They are designed primarily for web usage.

I’m not sure. At the moment, I’m not sure where we draw the line between any of these devices.

In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy we’re getting a chance to hear from some of the developers of Moblin today at Mobile Portland.

If you haven’t RSVP for Mobile Portland yet, please do so now. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn more about these new devices and what open source can contribute via the Moblin initiative.