Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gartner Nixes the UMPC

Microsoft and its partners made a big splash with last week's new "ultra mobile PC" products, but research firm Gartner Inc. says the units aren't quite ready for the big leagues.

Gartner, however, says users -- particularly enterprise users -- should hold off before rushing out to buy these new "tweener" gadgets that are neither laptop nor PDA.

"The UMPC concept has promise, [but] today's hardware cannot deliver on it," say the researchers.

In fact, enterprise users should "wait for more mature UMPCs -- and low-cost content services -- to emerge before considering them for field sales or other 'notebook replacement' applications."

As it stands, the devices are said to have too short a battery life -- enterprise users should look for at least eight hours -- and cost too much. Gartner suggests that $400 or below is the ideal price point to be anything more than "proof of concept" devices.

In general, enterprise users seem to have been put off the UMPC's forbears, the Tablet PCs, because they couldn't get used to the touch-screen interface, and Gartner suggests that improvements need to be made there, too.

In fact, the firm has a harsh kiss-off for Redmond and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC - message board), the two companies with the most behind the UMPC concept: "The UMPC as currently conceived will fail to achieve mainstream success -- defined as unit sales in the millions rather than the thousands -- by 2009."


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