Smartphone companion instead of netbooks, no syncing or extra data security worries!

Netbooks have a usage model consistent with the latest smartphones, except they have bigger screens and near full-size keyboards. And looking forward, smartphones will offer compute power necessary to deliver a full Internet experience, with storage densities sufficient to hold the files you need for your mobile life.

So going forward, do we maintain redundant wireless services for both a smartphone and a netbook (or at least pay additional for tethering)? How do we maintain syncing data on both these devices and our home/work PC? What about syncing all environments with the same apps? Do critical apps exist on all environments? What about app configuration?

One solution to this syncing hell, is provided by the smartphone companion concept, which is essentially a netbook form factor which does nothing but act as a smartphone terminal. For example, Celio offers the REDFLY which currently interfaces with Windows Mobile devices, via USB or bluetooth. Celio was a CES 2008 Innovations Awards Design and Engineering award honoree, and will be at the upcoming CES 2009, so they're worth watching. According to their CEO, Kirt Bailey (previously of Intel Capital, mobility markets), REDFLY has game in the enterprise saving the cost of purchasing a notebook, and also the ROI involved with managing and administering the devices (estimated roughly at $4100/year each). Additionally, REDFLY does not store any user data, so the display may be lost or shared between users without security concerns.

I was initially curious how well behaved smartphone apps are w.r.t. resizing of the display screen resolution. But I noticed in this review that "most applications automatically up-scaled from the phone's 320x240 pixel screen to Redfly's native 800x480 pixel widescreen resolution". It makes sense that with portrait vs landscape, and differing resolutions across a variety of devices, that most apps are trained to support multiple resolutions.

Perhaps devices like these will first make their mark in the enterprise world based on a clear ROI and security story (icing on the cake -- remote Windows desktop on the iPhone), and then be popularized in the consumer market based on convenience and lightness. But in the developing nations, where consumers may skip owning a home PC altogether, this is a very interesting proposition.

Here's to hoping we'll see support for Android and iPhone platforms. CES '09?

Disclosure: no positions