Different form factors for different personas and businesses

by May 25, 2022 0 comments

Edited excerpts from an exhaustive video interview Rahul Agarwal, Investor, Advisor, & Entrepreneur & Former MD & CEO, Lenovo India

“Traditionally India has been a desktop market given the demographics and the fact that we have been a price-led market. In the desktop era, the perception and reality were that a desktop was much cheaper.The life of a desktop was much longer than a laptop as it was static, in one place. The laptop had a higher chance of getting damaged.

Mobility happened in the laptop era when people started saying we don’t want to be chained to our desk. Wherever we go whether it’s a café or client meetings or work from home, we would like mobility. But that happened very slowly for some reasons. First was the cost even though that was narrowing. Second, a lot of organizations did not want the company’s confidential information to be taken by the employees back to their homes. Third is parents of teenagers wanting to see what their kids were watching, so they preferred desktops.

All this got shaken in the Covid Era. Everyone wanted a mobile machine because you didn’t know when a lockdown would happen, when your office would open and the online education factor. Mobility has become big in the Covid Era. I think the desktop use will become marginal over a period of time. Very specific use cases will be there.

Other form factors of devices

The tab is also doing very well. Lenovo’s tab business was doing great, and we were number one for a very long time. It made a comeback when the government found that when they were giving devices to students, the tab price point was the most amenable. Hospitality, education, and a lot of other verticals started using them.

In the past the netbook also didn’t take off in my opinion because it was underpowered. People were disappointed with the performance. Maybe products like Apple Newton were too early for their time. The price I understand was too high and the company did not display enough patience to continue.

When it comes to the cloud, key is where the computing power is going to be stored. There is one more form factor that came in called the Thin Client, where eventhe computing power was in the cloud and not just the storage. That also did not take off beyond a point.

What does the future hold for devices?

People are asking: Hey can I have a small device that I can project on the wall? Can it have a virtual keyboard on the table, and can I type on a virtual image? These are possibilities. But will that be convenient?

The question is will there be a point when you will need only one device. There are a lot of people who are just happy with a smartphone. You may have a computer, but you cannot live without a smartphone. My view is that these two devices will continue, but more and more people will find that most of their needs will be satisfied with a smartphone.

Can there be a smartphone which is engineered so well that it can expand? You press a button; the screen becomes a 10-inch one and a keyboard also comes out. That is a Nirvana! But will it become too bulky? Time will tell whether someone is able to invent such a device.”

These are excerpts from a video chat with Editor Sunil Rajguru and part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.

Check out the complete interview…

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