I have been heard to say that Wireless USB could transform portable smart phones. In particular, I’ve postulated that as PDA phones become smarter, there would come a day when they could replace your laptop. That day may be coming much sooner than I thought. Recently, Qualcomm released a veritable blizzard of announcements. One that is germane to this topic went out on the wire on November 13th. At that time, Qualcomm announced a new MSM chip code named SnapDragon. It is a 1Ghz processor that operates at very low power levels and has about 3x the performance of the highest performance ARM on the market today.
So imagine for a moment: your desk has a wireless keyboard, a wireless mouse, an LCD monitor, and a Wireless USB docking station that includes a large hard drive with wired USB ports for legacy peripherals. The docking station may also include wired Ethernet to the corporate network and internet. In this vision there is no PC. There is no Laptop and there is no PC – just a Smartphone, perhaps on your belt, perhaps in the recharger on the docking station. Because there is enough performance on SnapDragon to run Windows Mobile 5 along with many Mobile 5 applications – and run them very well – it means you can browse the internet, do email, open spreadsheets, write documents and be connected to the corporate intranet all without a laptop or PC. Interestingly, the hard drive is in the dock, not in the Smartphone. The only local data is what is in flash on the Smartphone. This is attractive to many corporations, as they worry about employees losing or stealing information, or having information stolen when a laptop is swiped or lost.
So why might this be an attractive product for enterprise applications? The Smartphone provides ultimate portability. Email, corporate applications and voice communications any place, any time. In the office it is convenience for the user. For corporate IT, it provides superior data security and manageability. It also lowers cost. A Smartphone with a 1GHz SnapDragon that connects to the corporate network and runs in a client/server mode is lower cost than a $2000 laptop. Time will tell if this type of product will really come to market or not. It is a logical continuation, however, of two trends. One, for Smartphones to become more and more capable. Two, of computers becoming smaller and smaller. From mainframes to midrange to minis … to servers to desktops to laptops … to ultra-light laptops to ultramobile PCs to ultra-Smartphones. It just seems natural. And although a processor like the SnapDragon is most certainly an essential ingredient, Wireless USB helps make it all possible. We are indeed approaching Life Without Wires™.