October 18th, 2011
I always think it’s fun when you can catch those nearly-there-but-just-not-quite-right ideas which always look so funny ten years down the line, right when they actually happen.
Motorola’s Lapdock is an absolutely textbook example of the genre.
You can kind of see how they got there from here, after all. “Man,” they thought, “it’s a pain when you’re out working, and you get something on your cellphone that you’d like to look at on your laptop, and you pull out your laptop, and all the stuff from your cellphone just isn’t there. You have to send yourself an email or re-type the link or whatever. That’s stupid!”
They’re right. It is. Things are so much more convenient if you have the same information accessible on your phone and your laptop (and, the jump they did not make, everything else too).
Then they thought “hey, what if we just made your phone the canonical repository of all that information, and turned all your other devices into dumb shells that do nothing until you plug the Phone Brain into them?”
Well, congratulations: you just hit on exactly the wrong solution to the problem.
No-one wants the Nerve Centre of all their information to be their cellphone. That’s just silly. You don’t want a ‘laptop’ whose power is artificially limited by the battery and heat envelope of an itsy-bitsy cellphone frame. You don’t want a ‘desktop’ you have to plug your phone into for it to be any use. You don’t want to have to use a headset to take calls when your phone is powering your laptop shell. You don’t want to trust all your vital data to a $2 memory chip inside your phone and have it locked into that phone so things get very awkward when you want to upgrade. None of those things are good things.
It gets outright sad to see Motorola continue to plug away at this loser of a strategy when it’s painfully obvious that just about everyone else managed to arrive at the *right* answer: use a framework which synchronizes all that data across all your devices via this crazy thing called ‘packet data transfer’. You know, the Internet. The Cloud. And junk. Whether it’s iCloud or Firefox Sync or Google calendar/contacts/Chrome sync or whatever the hell Microsoft calls their thing, everyone else figured it out. Motorola, for some bizarre reason, continues to doggedly push at their approach which just about answers the original need but provides nothing but limitations in comparison to the other way of fixing the problem…