Motorola, the company that practically invented the cellular phone wants to reinvent mobility again. Few months ago I wrote about the Webtop by Motorola and how it turns the Motorola Atrix into a portable power computer.
Motorola seems determined to continue and push that vision and at the Mobile World Congress the company demonstrates the next generation of it.
The idea is simple: your smartphone will soon become your personal PC. You can already do anything you like with it, but in the future you will also be able to plug it into various "host" devices that will utilize that enormous computing power and use it to create a completely different user experience.
Motorola's first example is called a "Lapdock". It's basically an empty laptop Skeleton without anything inside. Once you plug in your phone (Razr 2) the screen turns on and what you see is a much more advanced UI than the original one presented on the smartphone itself (at least that is the idea). This UI is called the Webtop, since it is mostly relying on web browsing. You can also interact with the phone native apps (Android Apps). Using the Lapdock you can enjoy a full physical keyboard.
Now let's take this idea and expand it a little bit: why not plug-in your smartphone into you car to start the engine and activate the radio, the car mounted phone and the entire user interface? How about connecting your phone to table style working stations (next generation of desktops)? How about plugging the phone to perform express check-ins using skeleton machines with no computer power?
So that's the vision, and I think I like the general direction, however, I do have my criticism about the execution:
From what I've seen there is still long way before the Webtop will become useful. Currently you don't get any native apps for emails, calendar, tasks, etc. in fact, you either can use the phone UI (that's Android default apps not in their tablet mode – which look very small and basic in the webtop mode) or expand a version of Firefox (why not chrome?) and do those things using web.
I think it would have been nice if the Webtop experience was actually the same as the Android Tablet version. That way you could actually get 2 devices in the price of one.
So Motorola obviously has a long way to go if it really wants to reinvent mobility again. I don't see the currently offering widely sold, mainly because it feels a bit immature and not competitive to other cutting edge devices. I'm sure we will see more of those combined devices in the future though.