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Mobile Internet Device: A new category?

With Samsung's introduction of the Mondi handheld device at the International CTIA Wireless conference, the question of defining its product category, Mobile Internet Device (MID), was again timely.

IDC analyst Shiv Bakhshi gave a valiant try at defining an MID during a breakfast lecture at the conference.

Bakhshi always invokes humor in his talks, but his presentation was a serious one. After questioning rhetorically whether the world needs yet another device category, he gave these characteristics for an MID:

-It is a “browser-centric pocketable mobile device that computes.”

-It is 4 to 7 inches long. It can instantly turn on.

-It is equipped with one or more radios.

-It has a full-functioning soft or hard keyboard.

-It supports a range of information communication and entertainment functions.

-It provides a full day of battery life.

Bakhshi didn't cite any examples of MIDs, nor he did include voice capability in his features that make up an MID. Fir example, the new MID from Samsung, the Mondi, does not support voice.

Bakhshi delved into ways that not having voice in an MID may not matter. He said that future users, including teenagers accustomed to texting instead of talking on cell phones, will redefine voice as “expression,” drawing in all the various ways that consumers use mobile phones (texting, sending photos and video).

“User-generated content will come from social networking, and MIDs can make money [for carriers] if they work off this idea,” Bakhshi added.

He also predicted that MIDs will run on several operating systems and on different networks, such as LTE, WiMax and Wi-Fi. The Mondi runs on the WiMax and Wi-Fi networks, and has the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

Bakhshi started his lecture by questioning whether the MID category will survive, but he concluded that the proliferation of high-speed networks and “changing social realities supports the MID as a new category.”

Still, Bakshi added, MIDs are a “classification nightmare.”

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