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Can lapdocks give tablets competition?

Motorola has announced its second lapdock, a laptop look-a-like which uses a phone for processing, storage and connectivity. The concept is very exciting since it performs the functions of a laptop at a very affordable price.

Motorola has announced its second lapdock, a docking accessory that looks like a laptop and uses a smartphone’s processing, storage and connectivity to work like a laptop.

Google (which owns Motorola as well as Android) and Motorola would want it to succeed as a new device category or even as a challenger to tablets.

For Google it holds more importance as Android has not been as successful in the tablet space as it has been in the smartphone category. More worryingly, apart from Samsung with its Galaxy Tabs all the other Android tablet makers are struggling to meet their internal targets.

So the best idea is to take the fight to where you are stronger, and that for Google is the smartphone, and through lapdock it can simply extend the capability of the smartphone to be able to give it top-notch tablet like features.

The concept is very exciting but didn’t find consumer favour in its first iteration mainly due to only one smartphone supporting it at that time and also due to high cost. However, this time around Motorola has announced that its lapdocks will be cheaper and will be supported by four current smartphones and many future ones.

What consumers can look forward to

There are several reasons for lapdocks to be successful; the first is that smartphones are becoming powerful enough to challenge laptops and the only thing they lack is screen size, which lapdocks can provide.

Smartphones today come even with 1.4 GHz dual core processors and this is just the beginning. We may soon see smartphones with 2.4 GHz processors or even more, and they would be more powerful than many laptops that were released just a year back.

The second reason is the cost advantage, as the lapdock needs only a screen, battery, speakers a keyboard and a very small memory just to store the basic user interface elements. The cost of the lapdock can be much lower than that of a tablet or a laptop which needs everything that a smartphone and lapdock have combined.

With lapdocks there is no need to sync. You have just one device and you get a  choice of screen size.

What can consumers ask Google for?

Lapdocks can potentially replace a tablet as well as a netbook (even a basic laptop) as they have all the functions of a laptop. However, there is no point in adding too much hardware to the lapdock as that will just push up the price.

The second factor is that both Android and Motorola are owned by Google. Thus it will be a wise move to extend the webtop functionality to Android itself.

If lapdocks are created as a third segment in the mobility business (smartphones and tablets being the first two,) many manufacturers releasing their own lapdocks will bring prices down, as has happened with Android tablets that now cost as less as Rs 3,000 (MNC brands start close to Rs 10,000).

Apple iPhone and iPad have seen a lot of very interesting accessories that use the iPhone’s capability to provide for very specific needs. However, the concept of a lapdock is much wider and so is its ability to be a game changer in mobility.

And it is almost certain that Google would already be working in this direction. Soon we might see many more lapdocks trying to use our smartphone juice.

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