Monday, May 23, 2011

Will Google Make the "Tablet" a Peripheral?

Motorola's Atrix is a smartphone that docks to a "notebook" peripheral. Will Google try something similar, and make an Android the central processor for a "tablet" that is a display? It is at least possible, given some new intellectual property Google has purchased.

Patents Google seems to have purchased would allow a smartphone to Though the drive any number of "peripherals," ranging from tablets to notebooks to typical PC peripherals or machine to machine devices. Though the notion will be unsettling to many within the consumer electronics and computing ecosystems, such a move would make sense for several reasons, among them more options to deal with the issues of screen size, battery life and input-output choices from the one device everybody carries with them, all the time.

Google buys Modu's patent portfolio for $4.7 million

Such an approach would "solve" a problem many users might have, namely the requirement to carry multiple devices, in a variety of form factors, when traveling or out of the office. As a practical matter, many simply solve the problem by carrying only a smart phone most of the time, then swapping a tablet for a notebook when away from the desk for longer periods, making the smart phone and the tablet the two essential devices.

Traveling then raises the issue of which other devices one chooses to carry, in addition to those two. The ability to dock a powerful smart phone with peripherals could make some of the choices easier, and should, in principle, also reduce the cost of the overall set of solutions.

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