What got this post going was noticing the very exciting news about the new Microsoft Courier device on show on Gizmodo. For those not familiar, you should google it to find out what all the fuss is about and draw your own conclusions.
It got me thinking about how my sense of "want" or desire for these new type of gadgets is changing rather alot, and it's largely down to having to fight the urge to instantly think "I want!!", and think more about what the device can do for me. Unless if you have an endless stream of income it becomes difficult to justify trying to purchase every device under the sun; so it has led me to start to think more constructively about what I want from a device/gadget.
If we take my recent obsession with looking at Netbooks. Sure they look cool and seem to have enough poke to run Windows 7 (probably) but would I really need one? if you take for intance that i'm writing this blog post on a HTC Touch Pro 2; i have enough power in my hands to be able to do what i want to on the internet without having to find a charger for the netbook or wait for it to boot up.
There's quite a few comments out there about how the new Courier will be locked down that will prevent users from doing all sorts on them, such as using them as fully fledged PC's or trying to run games on them. But the reason why i think such a device (as well as others such as ereaders) could be very successful is because they arent trying to be a device that tries to do too many things. If it does then it becomes heavy, inefficient, and above all - expensive. I got quite excited about when i got my IBM x60 tablet PC but soon realised it wasn't all it was cracked up to be because it's still a very expensive way of being able to use digital ink for OneNote notes. Using the stylus for anything other than taking notes is pretty slow and cumbersome (hence why i think UMPCs never really took off).
I'll be curious to see what Apple does with it's tablet PC and whether it's a big hit or not (it might well be, just because it's an Apple - not my opinion of course). As far as I can see it will still fall into the same pit falls as Microsoft's tablet PC efforts but let's wait and see.
If the Courier does exist though i highly commend MS for their creative thinking and views on the devices' ability to satisfy the requirements of many people by using technology to actually do something more useful than it just being a cool feature.
Just make it cheap. Please!