One of the rumors about Samsung’s upcoming S8 is that they are going to introduce a desktop mode supporting an external monitor and keyboard/mouse.
Not so long ago Microsoft were trying to convince us about Continuum and how we’d all be plugging our phones into desktop monitors and keyboards.
Let’s not forget that Microsoft was not the first to try this – several years before Continuum, Motorola tried out something similar on their Atrix phone back in 2011 (and a number of Motorola phones that followed?) where it supported a dual boot mode that could be booted into a Ubuntu Linux based desktop mode when connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Motorola apparently discontinued the feature because base features in Android starting supporting HDMI and attaching USB devices such as USB external drives, keyboards, mice etc to your phone via a USB OTG connector. Not many people are aware that your Android phone may already support connecting to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, if you so want to. Take a look on the box or in your manual for the ‘USB on-the-go’ logo and you might have these features already.
Apple has been criticized in the press from several points of view (for example) that their recent product releases have not been innovative enough, and they’re no longer pushing the boundaries of what’s currently possible. I came across a comment somewhere (I forgot to bookmark it), that the mobile phone industry in general has reached it’s peak of what’s possible, and to continue growth there needs to be a new revolution to innovate beyond the current form factor of the smartphone as we know it today.
I’ve said many times before that each device form factor has unique benefits and limitations according to its size and user interface. For example, a phone that fits in your pocket it a poor replacement for a desktop computer with a large LCD monitor, full size keyboard and mouse, and the reverse holds true too, a desktop computer is hardly a portable computing device.
The recent rumors and articles (in 2015, in 2016 and Lenovo’s concept phone here and here, and more recently: here, here, and here) about new phones from Samsung and LG possibly coming with folding screens starts to blur what’s possible. What if you have a phone that’s small enough and portable to be a phone (as we know it in the current form factor), but it has a screen that unfolds into something larger, say with a 7″ or larger screen that can be used in place of a tablet? That would certainly shake things up, allowing you to carry a device with a large enough screen to sit down and use it at a desk, but still carry it around in your pocket. I’m really curious and hope these come to market soon.
Things are still not looking good for Microsoft’s attempt to get a foot in the smartphone market. While their FY16Q1 financial results stated their mobile phone revenue fell by 56%, which was ahead of the new Lumia launch, IDC’s latest sales figures have shown Windows Mobile sales dropped 10% for the year. Given the launch of the flagship Lumia 950 models this year that has to hurt.
Worst still, Forbes are predicting a gloomy future for Microsoft’s mobile business for the coming year, predicting that they will cut their losses and pull out of the mobile phone market altogether.
Given the dominance in the market of Android and iOS devices (IDC shows Android has 80% global market share at this point, and even iOS is relatively far behind with 14%), one has to wonder what Microsoft were thinking when they bought Nokia and announced their Windows 10 Mobile plans. If they can come out with a truly revolutionary new product to catch everyone’s attention then maybe they have a chance, but an evolutionary step forward (and a small one at that) like the Lumia 950 models is definitely not the one that people are going to be dropping their Androids for and moving to. It’s just not good enough.
cnet have a live video stream from the Samsung launch event here. Event started at 8am Pacific. Expected new devices: Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+.
Also, Ars Technica live blog info here.