A phone which adapts to become a full PC when a big screen is available is undeniably a futuristic idea, and is of course the reality of what we have now with Continuum for Phones.
The success of this feature is however hampered by the failure of Windows Mobile itself, but some analysts feel that the feature will have an outsized impact on the mobile market.
“My phone or my phablet or a small tablet can be my main compute and storage and connectivity engine,” Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, said. “I do think we’ll see an Android version of this as well.”
Jack Narcotta, senior analyst at Technology Business Research, for example, sees a product such as HP Inc.’s Elite x3 hybrid tablet — which he calls “a legit Windows device” — as a great indicator of where Windows could push the mobile market.
“[It’s] providing a reference design for what an enterprise mobile device should be like,” Narcotta said. “Yes you can talk on it, but it’s not a smartphone. Yes you can use it as a tablet, but it’s not a tablet. Yes you can use it as a PC, but it’s not just a PC.”
Narcotta noted that it was all about the consistency of experience.
“It doesn’t have to be a smartphone; it could be a Chromebook, it could be a light PC, [but] making sure the user experience is as consistent as possible [is crucial],” Narcotta said.
Michael Finneran, principal analyst at dBrn Associates noted that the smartphone market needed a new growth motivator.
“For the most part the mobile business has slowed down,” said Michael Finneran, principal at dBrn Associates. “I look at it as a plateau. Now [for new features] we get a couple megapixels on a camera.”
While Moorhead saw Continuum for phones having a bigger role in 2017, it seems likely that other mobile operating systems will adopt the same idea and with more success.
“[It’s] a little bit ironic in that the PCs might fuel some development in the mobile space instead of mobile devices influencing what happens in the PC market,” agreed Moorhead.