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What is Mobile?

2015.11.10 16:10 PT

Benedict Evans:

This isn’t about the screen size or keyboard or location or use. Rather, the ecosystem of ARM, iOS and Android, with 10x the scale of Wintel, will become the new centre of gravity throughout computing. It will take over things like IoT and wearables in one direction and, in due course, the data centre in the other, and it will push onto the desktop.

Microsoft and Intel will disagree with this conclusion. My guess is that Intel will eventually catch up to ARM in terms of CPU & GPU power and power consumption ratios. When that happens Microsoft will introduce a smartphone. If Surface Book is Microsoft’s nomenclature going forward, my guess is the smartphone will be called Surface Phone.

The ARM-equivalent Intel SoC-powered Surface Phone will likely be head-to-head in computing power and power consumption to Android and iOS smartphones, but with one special twist: ‘dock’ it (physically or wirelessly) to a workstation setup — meaning there’s a big monitor, full-sized keyboard, and mouse — and the Windows 10 running Surface Phone becomes the Windows 10 running Surface Workstation. The thought of having a single mobile device to do everything is very alluring.

Windows 10 reminds me of responsive web design. On a desktop screen the design will make use of the larger screen real estate. On the other hand that same code will morph the user interface to make it easier to use on a smaller screen. Windows 10 seems to me a solid start to a responsive operating system design that works across screens that are smartphone small to digital signage big.

I personally prefer the more refined user experience designed into iOS and OS X, but I think Microsoft is building an operating system and ecosystem that can scale much larger.