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Portables Operating Systems Portables (Apple) Software Hardware

How About an iPhone OS Or Android-Based Netbook? 162

Posted by timothy
from the upsides-and-downsides dept.
perlow (Jason Perlow of ZDNet) suggests that the current crop of netbooks might be missing the boat when it comes to getting maximum battery life and small-screen usability, and asks "Could Mac OS X iPhone or Google's Android be the key to mass adoption of the next generation of netbooks?" Android looks pretty nice, I admit, but so far I like having full-fledged Ubuntu on my own small computer. He's not the first one to think that the iPhone would be well-employed as the guts of an ultra-portable, though. (Note: it's only a model.)
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How About an iPhone OS Or Android-Based Netbook?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:38AM (#25871455)

    Netbooks are popular because they run the software that people are used to. No converting of data files, no learning of new user interfaces. Everything you know, just on a small device with a battery life that is enough for a day.

    Cellphone technology based "laptops" have existed for years, and they have a solid fan base, but they are still big cellphones, not small PCs.

    The distinction may go away as the web replaces desktop applications, but that requires fast, reliable and affordable network access, IOW: not yet.

    • by EvilNTUser (573674) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:00AM (#25871571)

      Exactly. My phone already runs Symbian/S60. Why the hell would I want to buy a bigger object with the same feature set?

      In my opinion, it's more likely to move in the other direction. Eventually, phones will be so powerful that we'll just run our normal Linux/BSD distros* on them, and hotels/airplanes will be equipped with wireless full size keyboards and screens.

      This is fortunately also likely to end the security nightmare that is the webapps fad. No need for google docs if you have OpenOffice in your pocket. Hardware keyloggers will always be a concern, of course.

      *Yes, there are more than Ubuntu!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by foniksonik (573572)

        Uh, web apps are being made for one reason. SAAS (Software as a Service).

        Companies think there is a market for products that don't have a license, they have a subscription. Additionally there are savings to be had by updating features/bugs and providing support for a central repository of software rather than for a distributed user install base where the environment is unknown.

        Throw in the opportunity for an extra revenue stream from Ad supported 'free' versions of the software (which is to provide an alter

        • by cgenman (325138)

          Also remote storage. Having a bunch of in-progress documents available on Google Apps is very convienient when switching between home, work, and other computers.

          If you have only one laptop following you around, then it becomes a bit redundant. But for those of us who regularly work on three or more different machines, it can be quite convienient.

          • Also remote storage. Having a bunch of in-progress documents available on Google Apps is very convienient when switching between home, work, and other computers.

            Sure, but that same functionality can be duplicated with a simple KIO Slave. Why is it better to start a browser and type http://example.com/editor [example.com] rather than starting an editor and typing fish://example.com/user? The latter lets you host your files anywhere and they could even be encrypted.

            If non-http URL:s are too confusing for the average id^h^huser, it could just be a button called "My remote storage" or something.

            • is KIO cross platform compatible? and is it as user-friendly as Google Apps? and can you access your documents this way from any computer with internet access without having to install new software?

              • by outZider (165286)

                Sorta. No. No.

                KIO is an open source foamer's wet dream. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't really care, just like they don't care about ogg.

        • Customers with more than 20 users would never allow their employees to access company material from outside hardware anyway. If you're on a company laptop, you might as well use real programs instead of webapps.

          And as a consumer, I would never trust my data to a webapp provider either. I admit most are less discriminating.

          • Basecamp counts many large companies among it's clientelle, as does Google Apps... let's not forget about Salesforce... which is huge.

            BTW what do you mean by outside hardware? External servers or laptops... there's not a company out there that doesn't let employees VPN in to access materials.

      • Else you have zoom them and see itty bitty pieces
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rs79 (71822)

        "Why the hell would I want to buy a bigger object with the same feature set?"

        So you can read the screen? Is this a trick question?

      • by perlchild (582235)

        Hear hear about moving in the other direction. What interested me in the iPhone was that it was running a version of MacOS X just barely stripped down to fit in the user interface, memory and size constraints. I've since learned better, but I would consider a cell phone running a "full-fledged OS" an advantage to apps makers, encouraging third parties. Now that the app store guidelines are in, I'm having my doubts. Of course, full-fledged linux-based cellphones never did take off either, so either I don

    • by MikeRT (947531)

      Since it's basically just MacOS X under the hood. Apple would probably just have to install most of the OSX desktop APIs and provide some tweaks to the app launcher interface that the iPhone uses. However, I think the biggest incentive for them to not do this would be the perception that their product doesn't multitask which would be a turn off to some people.

      • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:32AM (#25871699) Journal

        If Apple got into that product category, I would expect it to be a smaller Mac rather than a larger iPhone. If you check out the teardown pictures of the MacBook Air, you'll see that the motherboard in that machine is very small, certainly small enough for a netbook-type product.

        I'm not sure I'd go for the form factor myself, but I could see a Mac about the size of a checkbook with a high-DPI display like the iPhone being a popular item. A 1920 x 1080 OLED display around 6x3 inches could be pretty cool. Two gigs of DRAM and 20 gigs of flash RAM, and you'd have a rather capable machine.

        -jcr

        • by nmg196 (184961) on Monday November 24, 2008 @08:07AM (#25871897)

          > A 1920 x 1080 OLED display around 6x3 inches could be pretty cool.

          I'd be happy with half that resolution on a screen that size. I doubt your eye could perceive the extra detail at a sensible viewing distance anyway. The iPhone screen res is just not quite enough to look sharp (it's "480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi")

          • Regardless of the resolution all these small form factor devices need even higher ppi. 163 isn't enough... give me 600ppi and 72 dpi and I'll be happy no matter the screen size. You can only fit so many characters on a screen anyways. 480x320 is fine though a good 16:9 aspect for viewing videos would be better (just don't go any smaller than an iPhone).

          • by jcr (53032)

            I doubt your eye could perceive the extra detail at a sensible viewing distance anyway.

            YMMV, but I can see the difference between pages printed at 600 DPI and 1200 DPI pretty easily.

            -jcr

            • by Incadenza (560402)

              YMMV, but I can see the difference between pages printed at 600 DPI and 1200 DPI pretty easily.

              You are comparing a screen with a nearly infinite number of colors per pixels to a print with just 2 colors per pixel (either black or white for BW prints, the principle for full-colour prints is the same). The screen permits anti-aliasing, the print does not, that is why the print needs far more DPI to appear sharp to the human eye.

              (as an aside: the minimum arc radius that we humans can see is not constant, but

          • by tknd (979052) on Monday November 24, 2008 @01:36PM (#25875461)

            I doubt your eye could perceive the extra detail at a sensible viewing distance anyway.

            He wants about 300dpi which is starting to get into printer resolution range. That would enable serif fonts (like times) to look better than sans serif fonts (arial, helvetica). You would also find smaller point fonts more readable thanks to the additional pixels. So viewing a webpage might finally make sense on a device that small that is commonly held in your hand like a book or a sheet of paper. If we could get to OLED contrast ratios and that dpi, your display would basically look almost like a printed photograph. With current displays at around 90 to 100dpi, everything looks pixely (windows) or blurred because of the low dpi of the display.

            Today 300dpi might be unreasonable for a color display. I think e-ink displays get to about 300 dpi but they can't display color or refresh quickly. My 9" eee pc lcd screen is at about 130 dpi. So I think lcd manufacturers should be able to get that up to 150 dpi or so.

            I'd like to see the more expensive electronics manufacturers (sony, apple) demand high dpi displays because everything would really start to look sharp without anti aliasing or sub pixel lcd tricks. For example just imagine going from 100 dpi to 200 dpi. That means in the same pixel on 100 dpi you now have 4 dots instead of 1 to render it. If the font is adjusted for the higher dpi, curved or diagonal lines would look super sharp.

            • I think e-ink displays get to about 300 dpi but they can't display color or refresh quickly.

              Not any production ones. Last I checked, all eInk readers were still 6" 800x600 (Iliad is 1024x768, but it has a larger physical screen size, as well)

        • by sukotto (122876)

          They could call it the "iNewton" :-)

      • Ironically, it does multitask, just not with user apps. I think this is intended to deal with it's relatively small RAM amounts. The mail, text messaging, and phone apps are always running in the background or you couldn't get mail and phone calls when you were doing other things. The iPod app can also run in the background, though it doesn't always. You can listen to music while surfing the web or playing a game if you choose though.

    • by chrb (1083577) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:42AM (#25871747)

      I think the point they're trying to make is that cellphone based laptops don't necessarily have to be just big cellphones. There's absolutely no reason why Android can't run on a netbook - in fact, there's absolutely no reason why Android couldn't run on your desktop. It's all open source, so package up Dalvik and the class files for your Linux distribution of choice, compile Skia with the Cairo backend, and you should be able to run Android applications on standard Linux installs. Maybe it could do with some desktop integration, but it's certainly possible. You could possibly even replace Dalvik with OpenJDK, which should give a nice performance boost.

      So back to the point: the G1 and other Android phones really are just small PCs - the clock speed of the T-Mobile G1 is over 10 times that of my 486 from a decade ago, and it has over 5 times more RAM, so clearly the technological distinction between a desktop and phone isn't as big as it used to be. Heck, if you have a jail-broken G1 you can run a full blown Debian install on it. Forget web applications, the time for a computer capable of running real apps in your pocket is right now.

      • Heck, if you have a jail-broken G1 you can run a full blown Debian install on it.

        Pardon my skepticism and ignorance, but I keep listening about installing Linux on HTC handsets for couple of years already. Apparently such installs are usually quite successful, except for a tiny detail -- such devices are no longer usable as phones anymore.

        Has anything changed in the meanwhile? I mean, is there any support for HTC phone hardware in Linux kernel? Any dialer application? Some very basics?

        • by chrb (1083577) on Monday November 24, 2008 @08:53AM (#25872105)

          Yes, the Debian on G1 install gives you access to phone, Android, and Debian functionality at the same time. At the moment it's done with a chroot environment, but there are plans to package/replace the Android stuff to give a native Debian install. Basically, libc and the dynamic linker are non-GNU under Android, but they are standards compatible, so it shouldn't be too difficult to replace them. The G1 runs Linux by default, so of couse there is already support in its kernel for the phone hardware.

          • Basically, libc and the dynamic linker are non-GNU under Android, but they are standards compatible, so it shouldn't be too difficult to replace them. The G1 runs Linux by default, so of couse there is already support in its kernel for the phone hardware.

            Now that sounds good. Thanks for the information. Now, if we only could buy blank handsets, without any firmware pre-installed, from HTC...

            • by RMH101 (636144) on Monday November 24, 2008 @10:55AM (#25873333)
              You can buy an HTC running WinMo and install Android on it, if that helps? Check out xda-developers.com. When I last looked into it, it was getting fairly feature-complete on the Kaiser. As soon as it's ported to one of the new and seriously cool HTC handsets it's going to get a lot more popular, at present I think that the fat form factor of the G1 is a major stumbling block. The G1 hardware is pretty similar to other HTC WinMo phones in terms of chipset etc.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I tought netbooks were popular because they ran linux!
    • by Graff (532189) on Monday November 24, 2008 @08:57AM (#25872131)

      Cellphone technology based "laptops" have existed for years, and they have a solid fan base, but they are still big cellphones, not small PCs.

      Actually, the iPhone OS IS Mac OS X. All Apple did was add some hardware support and a bit of custom GUI to better support the minimal size of the screen and the mouseless interface. Mac OS X is very modular, versatile, and it has the ability to scale down or up well depending on the resources available to it. It's vastly different than just taking a cellphone OS and modifying it for a netbook, Apple would just use the regular Mac OS X and add hardware support so it could run on a netbook.

      All of this looks like it's gone over the heads of the people at ZDNet. They talk about Mac OS X and the iPhone OS as if they were two completely different animals instead of both being Mac OS X. They don't seem to realize that you can have your cake and eat it too: a version of Mac OS X that runs like a laptop version and yet has a small OS "footprint" like a cellphone version. You certainly can and it wouldn't take a major reworking of anything to get the job done.

      • Not completely (Score:3, Informative)

        by feranick (858651)

        Actually, the iPhone OS IS Mac OS X.

        Heavily crippled. One thing is to be the full OSX, another is to have a small subset of features. Furthermore, you cannot run any program written for OSX in the iPhone. To me that's enough to say that the iPhone-OSX is not the same as OSX.

        • Re:Not completely (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Graff (532189) on Monday November 24, 2008 @02:11PM (#25875893)

          Heavily crippled. One thing is to be the full OSX, another is to have a small subset of features. Furthermore, you cannot run any program written for OSX in the iPhone. To me that's enough to say that the iPhone-OSX is not the same as OSX.

          Mac OS X for the iPhone actually has a rather large subset of features that the desktop version has. The thing is that most of the features in common are under the hood and not in the UI. It's the UI that is largely different and it pretty much has to be considering the size differences of the displays and the huge differences in input methods.

          As far as running programs written for the desktop version on the iPhone, it wouldn't take much effort on either Apple's or a developers end to get that to happen. The API for both targets is extremely similar, if you code using MVC as Apple recommends then you should have your code pretty much all set to work on the iPhone or the desktop, your model and most of your controller code will stay the same and most of the differences will be in the view. Make two targets with code covering the appropriate differences in the API and you should easily be able to make two versions of your app, one for the iPhone and one for the desktop. You might even be able to do it as a fat binary so one app package works on either platform but I wouldn't see the point in that.

          All this is moot anyways, my point is that Mac OS X has all the technology needed to be run as a slimmed-down version which can run on a netbook. All it needs is the appropriate device drivers, a bit of tweaking to make sure everything plays nice, compile it for the new CPU (if needed), and it sould be all set. It's not like Apple is using two radically different operating systems between the desktop and the iPhone, they are simply modified versions of each other. A third target for the netbook would be pretty easy to accomplish with a versitile OS like Mac OS X.

          If Apple used a CPU that had a close enough instruction set to what Mac OS X currently runs on then applications wouldn't need any work to run on a netbook like this. Of course if the CPU was different enough then the developers would have to at least recompile their code for the new CPU but that's no biggie so long as they kept to Apple's APIs.

      • i guess that's true in the same sense that Windows XP Embedded is the same as Windows XP, as it's a componentized version of Windows XP (using the same Windows NT kernel)--same with Windows Vista Embedded and Windows Vista.

        but sharing the same kernel, while using completely different UIs and not being able to run any of the same programs, is meaningless to end users as it offers no advantages over having two completely different OSes built separately from the ground up. whereas if you could simply disable s

    • >Cellphone technology based "laptops" have existed for years,
      >and they have a solid fan base, but they are still big
      >cellphones, not small PCs.

      And you say that like it's a bad thing... the number one issue i have with the PDA/Smartphone market is that - since Psion quit the game circa 2001 - none of them have clamshell keyboards. I've longed for a wifi-ed up Revo or Series 5 for 5+ years now. The Word processor and Spreadsheet on the Greyscale, 8MB Revo are both simple and fantastic. All it needs i

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:11AM (#25873573) Homepage Journal

      Not really.
      The problem with most netbooks has been the UI.
      The Linux distros they used just where not that good. XP works but with the smaller screens it really isn't great.
      Using the software you are used too? Only if your a techie. Most netbooks don't come with a optical drive and external optical drives are not yet super common.

      What an Android or iPhone based netbook offers is trouble free computing.
      If you want software you get it from Itunes or the Android store.
      Learning curve? More myth than anything. I set up a Linux box for a church library. The PC was super old so I had to use Zenwalk on it. I put Gnumeric on it to keep track of their media.
      The woman that runs it didn't even know what a flash drive was. Did she have any problem?
      Not at all. She is using it just fine and wishes her XP system at home looked as pretty.
      People have made the jump to Mac, iPhones, and Cell phones with no real problem.
      So I do think this is a great idea.

    • Maybe they don't want the laptop running the cellphone operating system because, to this point, the cellphone operating systems have been crap. But the iPhone system may not be crap. Maybe it is time.
  • Openness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:40AM (#25871457)

    He's not the first one to think that the iPhone would be well-employed as the guts of an ultra-portable, though.

    If Apple manufactures is, not on your life. I don't want to have to jailbreak the thing at each update, or be denied the right to run this or that on it.

    I think the success Asus has had with the EeePC doesn't come so much from the PC's form factor or scale, as from the fact that it's ... just a PC, i.e. an open platform that doesn't require people to buy special software, and lets them run whatever they want on it. PDAs these days are powerful enough to do almost the same, but depending on the manufacturer, it can be a breeze, or a pain in the butt, to develop and run applications on them.

    Come to think of it, this issue of openness (i.e. letting people do what they want without corporate greediness and power-freaking getting in the way) is what defines successful things from unsuccessful ones. MP3 for example is an open format, just look at the MP3 players industry now. PCs are essentially an open design, and it's been flourishing for decades, to the point that it's so entrenched that it gets in the way of better designs. On the other hand, ebooks for example are a dismal failure, because people have to jump through hoops (and pay dearly for the privilege of jumping) to get DRM-encumbered files that won't be readable on other devices.

    • OpenMoko (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xzvf (924443)
      You said it very well. It is really just the convergence of the cell phone and PC. I'd prefer the mostly open hardware and software flexibility of the PC wins over the locked down "just works" option of the cell phone. If we want to grow the netbook up from a phone maybe the OpenMoko platform would be a better bet?
      • Re:OpenMoko (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:59AM (#25871559) Journal

        OpenPandora is more interesting. OpenMoko is using truly ancient hardware. It's a generation behind my phone, which is one or two generations behind the state of the art. My phone does, however, act as a bluetooth dial-up networking device using UMTS or (falling back to) GPRS. I can use it to make calls, and I can use it to access data. This means that any device I own with Bluetooth can connect to the Internet via the phone, as long as the phone is in my pocket. I can use the same connection with my laptop or with a palmtop (I currently use a Nokia 770, but I'll probably grab one of the next generation of the OpenPandora system).

        There is already some very nice hardware in this arena, such as OpenPandora and the BeagleBoard, that run open operating systems. Once you ditch Windows, you ditch the x86 requirement and so you can make much nicer devices.

      • by Daengbo (523424)
        Would you use a smartphone dock? [ibeentoubuntu.com] I know I would if the interface were an open standard, the terminal were really dumb, and the phone used biometric security.
    • VERY bad examples (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MosesJones (55544) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:17AM (#25871639) Homepage

      MP3 for example is an open format, just look at the MP3 players industry now. PCs are essentially an open design, and it's been flourishing for decades

      First off the PC wasn't an open design, it was closed but companies did a "whiteroom" re-engineering of the BIOS (something that the DMCA would outlaw today). It became more successful once opened but the original design was very much closed and of course the operating systems that made it successful are pretty much the poster child of the closed software movement. The other example you give which is MP3 isn't really open either (otherwise why would there be Ogg?).

      So Openness can be a good thing, but your examples are in fact more examples of how closed works commercially as long as it develops an established market.

      • Re:VERY bad examples (Score:4, Informative)

        by the_womble (580291) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:42AM (#25871751) Homepage Journal

        First off the PC wasn't an open design, it was closed but companies did a "whiteroom" re-engineering of the BIOS (something that the DMCA would outlaw today).

        reengineering for inter-operability is allowed [chillingeffects.org]

        IBM also published complete hardware designs. The closed components were the BIOS and the OS (which was Microsoft's, not IBM's).

        The other example you give which is MP3 isn't really open

        The format is open in that it is published, but it is patent encumbered. Once the patents expire anyone will be able to implement decoders and encoders, and there most of the patents will expire in the next two years.

        • by Speare (84249)

          IBM also published complete hardware designs. The closed components were the BIOS and the OS (which was Microsoft's, not IBM's).

          The BIOS was copyrighted, but not what I would call "closed." They were as open as the hardware designs. I had the source code to the BIOS (printed along with the rest in an IBM three-ring binder) in 1981, the year it was released.

        • by swillden (191260)

          reengineering for inter-operability is allowed

          True but irrelevant, since there was no copy protection mechanism to circumvent.

          The DMCA would not in any way have prevented Compaq from reverse-engineering IBM's BIOS.

          It's also worth pointing out that Compaq's "clean room" approach (using one team to read the BIOS code and create specifications and a separate team to create a compatible BIOS from the specs) wasn't actually necessary. It was probably a good idea to do it, to reduce the likelihood that IBM could drag them through a lengthy and expensive

        • by LO0G (606364)

          Actually MP3 isn't open. It's public, but not open (nobody can submit changes to the spec, which is part of the definition of "open").

          And then there are those patent restrictions...

      • by Draek (916851)

        First off the PC wasn't an open design, it was closed but companies did a "whiteroom" re-engineering of the BIOS (something that the DMCA would outlaw today). It became more successful once opened but the original design was very much closed

        But the original design was not, and wasn't intended to be successful. It was cloned because Compaq et al saw it as an easy way to 'leech off' IBM's reputation, which is why the first PCs were all marketed as "IBM compatible", and once they did that and prices began to drop the PC market began to grow. Take that away, and there's no way in hell the PC platform would've been as successful as it was, not even IBM wanted it to be since for them it was just a 'bone' to throw to those who weren't ready to buy pr

    • The reasons were: (a) It's small and (b) It's a PC

      I want to use the same apps as my desktop machine so I can work with the same files on both.

      More and more people want to compute on the move and the EeePC is portable in a way that laptops simply aren't. That's the reason they're selling millions, and deservedly so. It's a brilliant little invention.

    • Re:Openness (Score:4, Insightful)

      by itsdapead (734413) on Monday November 24, 2008 @08:26AM (#25871969)

      I think the success Asus has had with the EeePC doesn't come so much from the PC's form factor or scale, as from the fact that it's ... just a PC

      Except the original EEEPC came with a customised Linux OS which to most of the target market was not what they were used to.

      Also, although it wasn't "locked down" in the iPhone sense, and all us slashdot types had enabled the "advanced" desktop and added the full Debian repositories before you could say "apt-get", your typical non-geek user would have had difficulty installing anything not on the very limited Asus repository.

      Yet the original EEE seemed to fly off the shelves - and its hard to know whether the subsequent move towards XP was really "by popular demand" or because Asus drank deeply Microsoft's Kool Aid.

    • When it comes to cell phones, I kind of like a bit of control so that crap like adware, dialers phoning numbers in Nigeria and charging you $10 per minute etc don't get installed on my phone. Also, someone else takes care of those details so I don't have to spend my valuable time staying on top of what software is safe to install on my phone.

      Phone is not a general purpose computer, and honestly I don't want my phone to be one.

      Now if we are talking about personal computers, then that kind of control would be

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138)

      I think the success Asus has had with the EeePC doesn't come so much from the PC's form factor or scale, as from the fact that it's ... just a PC, i.e. an open platform that doesn't require people to buy special software, and lets them run whatever they want on it.

      I'd argue that the Asus EeePC finally filled the need for an ultraportable on a realistic budget. 2 years ago you had to spend at least 1,400 dollars for a Dell XPS or equivalent if you wanted a notebook you could carry comfortably. The EeePC dr

    • If Apple manufactures is, not on your life. I don't want to have to jailbreak the thing at each update, or be denied the right to run this or that on it.

      Locking down the software that can run on a device may be a deal breaker for you, but it's a huge advantage for most users.

      Most users would probably love a machine which is basically incapable of getting a virus because it's impossible to install malware on it in the first place.

      So, sure, the average Slashdotter might hate a locked down machine, but for the majority of the population it would be an advantage.

  • Smartphone power (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:41AM (#25871465) Homepage

    One point to note here is that Smartphones of today are the "ultra-portables" of a couple of years ago, the laptops of about 5 years ago and the desktops of 8 years ago. The power of the devices is equivalent to what many modern OSes were developed upon, so the issue when looking at OSX(iPhone), Android or Symbian is purely on its better battery efficiency and better small scale UI.

    Personally I'd add Symbian to the list as the old Psion 5mx and 7 were in effect the netbooks and ultra-portables of their time and Nokia have some tablet devices at the moment. Combined with the touch screen interfaces, especially the "drag" widescreen display that Android and the iPhone have, gives a robust, low power, operating platform with the added benefits of an easy to use set of installers.

    So maybe the question isn't so much whether this is a good plan, but what marketing, software suites and public perception pieces are preventing these mobile OSes (mainly Symbian at this stage) being the default.

    But one thing that isn't preventing them is the power of the devices, I'm continually stunned at the multi-processor power of my humble "mobile phone", for most people a netbook with the same processor as my phone (iPhone) but a bigger screen would be perfectly okay and easier to use for their core tasks (email, internet browsing, minor games).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Daengbo (523424)
      I'm really looking forward to the new crop of ARM processors, the ARM10s [wikipedia.org]. Atom-like performance at about a third of the power usage. Wow. Flash is already prepped for the ARM via the iPhone. If people can get over the lack of Windows, ARM netbooks could be a big hit.
      • by Daengbo (523424)
        I don't know what happened to my brain there. Of course I was meaning the Cortex A9s. Disregard my ramblings.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          I don't know what happened to my brain there

          You Cortex is in your ARM, that's what.

        • Re:Smartphone power (Score:4, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 24, 2008 @08:33AM (#25871989) Journal
          The confusion probably happened because the ARM10 is the currently-shipping MPCore, while the A9 is the newer MPCore. The A9 is basically an A8 with a few tweaks and support for up to 4 cores on the same die. The existing A8-based chips are very nice, my personal favourite being the OMAP3530, which has a nice DSP and an OpenGL ES 2.0 accelerator on the same die, and supports flash and RAM in a package-on-package configuration. I just noticed that Micron have started selling 2Gb DDR POP modules, so you can get an OMAP, 256MB of flash and 256MB of RAM in a combined package the size of a thumbnail.
    • Re:Smartphone power (Score:4, Interesting)

      by theaveng (1243528) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:49AM (#25871503)

      You are correct. I can do more things with an Cellphone than I could do with my old full-sized Commodore 64 or Amiga 500 back when I was a student. In fact most cellphones are powerful enough to emulate those old machines and play the classic videogames.

      The only flaw I can see with cellphones is their tiny keyboard. Perhaps Apple or some other maker should repackage their phones to include laptop-sized keyboards so users can run some limited software (like MS Word). They could call it the Iphone or Ipod lapbook.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        hence the original article's idea. a larger version of them.

        personally I want an iPad. Something the size of an e-book, with wi-fi, and an OS that is simple to use on it. Oh and i want it for less than $500 as that is what most of those things go for.

      • by grumling (94709)

        The only flaw I can see with cellphones is their tiny keyboard. Perhaps Apple or some other maker should repackage their phones to include laptop-sized keyboards so users can run some limited software (like MS Word). They could call it the Iphone or Ipod lapbook.

        Nokia SU-8W bluetooth keyboard [amazon.com]. Not included, but paired right up with my phone, has a little tilt stand for the phone, and even has the function keys.

        There are plenty of 3rd party BT keyboards (including the Apple one) that work great with S60.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let me know when I can run vi, gcc, PC/SC (smartcards), and Thunderbird (for its PKCS#11 smartcard S/MIME) on iPhone OS or Android. Otherwise STFUAGBTW.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by intheshelter (906917)

      Yeah! And everyone should STFU unless this idiot can run DOS on iPhone and Android, and his phone should also use vacuum tubes and should be powered by coal fired steam!

      Maybe you should pipe down until your views are shared by at least a fraction of 1% of the rest of the world?

  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:00AM (#25871565) Homepage Journal

    How about I pound nails with a wrench instead? It would be about the same thing.

    Use the right tool for the right job. Keep the cellphone OSes on phones.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      How about I pound nails with a wrench instead? It would be about the same thing.
      Use the right tool for the right job. Keep the cellphone OSes on phones.

      It's funnier when you pretend he says it in a preacher voice, railing about operating system miscegenation.

    • Agree. It would be a usability disaster. An OS designed to be be used with a small, portrait touchscreen with no keyboard on a device with a large, landscape non-touch screen, a keyboard, and a touchpad? They'd have to rework the iPhone interface so much that it would be a complete compromise for both devices. I can't believe this even made it to the front page.

    • by 2nd Post! (213333)

      It's too late. Apple is already shipping laptops and desktops with the iPhone OS.

  • Pandora (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:03AM (#25871579)

    http://openpandora.org/ - can run unbuntu, pocket-sized and a 10 hour battery life = win!

  • by Crotch Jenkins (1229438) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:08AM (#25871601) Journal
    This is a great idea. Laptop users don't need to copy and paste either.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shhhh!

  • If so then why don't run that OS on my desktop? It would run like hell!

  • what would either offering on my netbook seek to achieve? are you just saying words at this point?
    given apples track record, id hate to see 10-20 apps i cant install on the damned thing because apple has "banned" them. id also hate to see every semblance of music and video on my netbook buried under DRM encryption.

    a google netbook? if you bought the EEEPc linux edition then technically you are using googles OS in a way, as it prefers to run its search monster on a custom flavor of linux.
  • Grrr (Score:2, Funny)

    by telchine (719345)

    The only Apple I want on my netbook is the one I'm having for my lunch!

  • What? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:31AM (#25871697) Homepage Journal

    So I'll have a big laptop-like device with an incredibly confined proprietary OS I can't change, and that has a tightly controlled application base?

    Great! Sign me up! I totally hate how I can run any OS I please, any application I please. I want to have an OS that locks me into using the applications the manufacturer tells me I may use on my hardware!

    You know, sarcasm aside, the linux versions of these netbooks have a much higher return rate than the Windows versions. If you make your device around an iPhone, you're looking at the same higher return rate for a confined OS that isn't windows, but you're also disregarding the benefits of an OS that costs about 5 bucks per machine. Basically, you're taking the worst of both worlds, and you don't even have a Windows XP version to sell to the masses when they realise that's what they really want.

  • Seriously, what is the point of these things? They are way too big to be used like a PDA, yet way too small to be used like a laptop. They're like little toys you show all your friends, then put on the shelf, and don't touch again for 6 months.

    Anyone who thinks regular laptops are too big has been buying lower-end consumer-grade Dell and HP hardware for too long. My old 12" PowerBook looked like a PDA compared to those monsters, yet was still a very full-featured laptop.

    • I still have my 1.4GHz PIII subnote, and I don't think I'll ever get rid. It's a Dell and it's that good, I've replaced stuff that needed replacing on it over the past five years (screen, battery, HDD) and use it on a daily basis. The best bit about it is that it only weighs 2.4lb sans battery, so I can lug it around all day.

    • by Fatalis (892735)

      They are not too small, people use them "like a laptop" all the time. I don't know where you got the idea that they can't be used. The point of netbooks is simply to be cheap, small laptops for when you don't want to carry the extra weight and don't want to spend a fortune on, say, an X series ThinkPad or a PowerBook, or any of the other expensive larger laptops. For instance, I tend to have back problems so having a light laptop is important, but I only use it to take notes in lectures, so I wouldn't want

    • The point is that they're super portable. I can throw mine on my laundry basket with no real noticeable difference in weight. I can balance it on the arm of a recliner and IM/surf while watching TV, and look up more information about the show I'm watching. I can perch it on the toaster with a recipe on screen.

      I'm not a big fan of full-sized laptops - they aren't comfortable to type on for long periods, they aren't all that portable, and they cost way too much to justify what limited use I'd make of them.
  • What Netbooks need to do is lose the X86 (and clones) and go ARM based. Battery life will increase dramatically, and those of us in the Open Source world will barely notice a difference.

  • Like Bill Clinton once said... or was it Al Gore? Anyway, most of the amazing battery performances of cellphones come from using dedicated, low power hardware.

    A small, and absolutely not comprehensive list:

    ARM based processor (yes, RISC is much more efficient and predictable, than whatever-i686-is)
    Low-power wireless (that can be a true killer, especially true for WiFi, much less for WiMax)
    No hard disk (that kills a lot)
    Etc etc

    Sure, software has its own share of guilt: mainly, the fact that mainstream OSes,

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday November 24, 2008 @09:39AM (#25872417)

    My Palm Tungsten is a hell of a computer. With the IR keyboard, it serves as a somewhat awkward laptop. It got me to thinking, the only real difference between it and a proper laptop is the screen. Of course, the screen is over half the cost of a laptop so I kind of figured "Ah, that's why we don't see sub-$400 laptops." But then the netbooks came out and I said "well, looks like I called that one wrong."

    What we're seeing here are the warring priorities of usage and form factor. If I'm on the go but need the full feature set of a proper desktop, I'm stuck with a laptop. I need the large screen, I need the keyboard and touchpad, I need to run proper PC apps. If I'm really on the go and can't afford to sit down and setup my laptop every time I need to do something, then I really need a PDA-format device. But then there are the situations, usually in businesses, where you end up with weird hybrids of those demands. That's where you see the tablet PC's that are supposed to serve as digital clipboard replacements. There's also the hybrid tablets where you can close the lid like a laptop or turn it around and close it and now you have a tablet PC. Personally, I think those units are just too damn fragile. The old-school blackberries were completely awesome and the biggest part of that was how durable they were. You could take these things into the field and do abuses to them that would make Jack Bauer toss his cookies and they'd still work. There's also a number of businesses that just put a proper desktop PC on a cart and say "haul it where you need it, plug it in when you get there." I've seen that for medical equipment and also inventory systems at warehouse stores.

    It pretty much boils down to "how much screen do you need to display what you need to look at" and "how are you inputting information?" At this point, horsepower is pretty much a secondary concern, we can put amazingly powerful computers in little tiny PDA formats. But as powerful as they are, if you need to do a lot of typing, you need a computer. I can read slashdot just fine on a berry but I wouldn't have wanted to thumb-type this post on one.

    • I can read slashdot just fine on a berry but I wouldn't have wanted to thumb-type this post on one.

      That's actually where the netbook shines: I can read and post using mine. Feet up in a recliner, a cat on my lap, a drink in one hand, and a tv show on. Were it a PDA, I wouldn't be able to type well enough. Were it a full sized laptop, it would be a lot harder to balance on the arm of the chair. Or on the cat. Were it a desktop, I'd be missing the feet up and the TV. This is one niche that the netbook fills quite well.

  • by ianmac47 (445083) <ianmac47NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Monday November 24, 2008 @09:55AM (#25872597) Homepage

    I think its likely that any touchscreen tablet from Apple would more or less simply be a larger version of the iPhone/Touch, but with similar hardware on the inside. This would have several huge advantages for Apple in terms of a business model.

    Something like a 7 inch iPod Touch would provide most of the same functionality as a netbook, but have the advantage of a built in App store that Apple already tightly controls and has a monopoly on. The digital keyboard would save space and size, but a screen twice as large as the current iPhone/Touch would allow for greater usability. Such a product also follows with Job's claim that the iPhone is already a netbook.

    I think any Apple entry into the Netbook market would rely heavily on the iPhone OS, especially since the whole idea over the iPhone OS is that its really, deep down at its core, Mac OS.

  • Having a phone/pda that is usable while I'm mobile yet powerful enough to be attached to a docking station which turns it into a PC is just brilliant. As long as the dock has additional ports and its own power source sign me up.

    Wait. Isn't that describing a laptop? Have they finally improved the hardware for portable devices to the point of being able to put them in your pocket?

  • A Windows Mobile phone and a Celio Redfly [celiocorp.com] get you a phone-OS based netbook, and it works REALLY well. For browsing and e-mail and other web-based work, it's a great platform, highly portable, lasts a LONG time (I get 7+ hours from my Redfly, regularly), is small, lightweight, and instant-on.
  • 13'' Macbook serves me as a netbook pretty well. It's not too big to prevent you from taking it with you and it's not so small that you can't browse internet (in comfort of 1280x800 resolution).

    You can run Skype on it and use it as a phone as well at any WiFi hotspot.

    It's stable, and perfectly usable with only a keyboard and track pad (no need to bring a mouse).

    And the keyboard is nice and you can actually type on it comfortably unlike most netbooks.

  • Google will make this move. Well somebody else may do this on behalf of Google cause Android is open enough to port it to your netbook or your set-top-box yourself.

    And it makes sense. Read your mail on your TV? Check the weather for tomorrow or the stock quotes from today? Twitter sth. Chat with your mother?

    Google would be stupid if the didn't support these new applications for Android. It helps to grow their own ecosystem AND helps to hurt Microsoft which has invested millions if not billions into these ma

  • The Apple Airbook has the netbook weight and memory capacity. Except you pay $1700 for a legible screen, first-rate operating system and Apple class.
  • It's already possible to put android on the N800/N810 Nokia tablets. I'd imagine it would be just a matter of getting someone to do the installer or try it out. Android is after all Linux under the hood, so it is possible that any netbook that runs Linux already can run android with a little bit of work. The CPU should not matter too much either, because Linux runs on almost all CPU's out there.

    As for the iPhone and it's OS, it's called a mac. The iPhone is supposed to be running Mac OS X modified to ru

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