Sunday, March 17, 2013

Device size: clothing makes the choice

An thread reminded me of some analysis I did in the 90s on what device sizes we should build our Cloud ASP service against. That analysis focused on pockets and purses; it came in an era when men still had shirt pockets and Jeff Hawkins carried around wooden models of the Pilot until he settled on one that fit his.

Since that time our devices have evolved a bit -- thought not as much as many think. We had slates in the 90s too -- they were just heavy and ran Windows variants or Windows thin client OS. Our clothing may have changed more [3]. Shirt pockets are gone, suit jackets are less common, and pants pockets are larger. Pocket location may also have shifted as men have gotten fatter around the world. (I don't know what's popular in China).

This produces some interesting size options based on clothing. Here's my own personal list of exemplar devices for each transport option with a gender assignment based on typical American practice.

b None [1] watch
m Traditional pants front pocket iPhone 5S
m Expansive pant front pocket Samsung Galaxy [2]
f Purse Samsung Galaxy
f Purse iPad Mini
b Backpack / shoulder bag iPad Mini
b Backpack / shoulder bag MacBook Air 11"
b Briefcase iPad (full) + Logitech Kb/Case
b Briefcase MacBook Air 13"

Running through the list, and disregarding whether one wants a phone or not, device options are probably best determined by one's clothing habits. The list also suggests the women should disproportionately prefer the Samsung Galaxy to the iPhone but that men should split 50/50 -- so the Samsung Galaxy should outsell the iPhone 5 about 1.5:1.

If the iPad Mini provided voice services the list predicts the combination of iPhone 5 and iPad Mini(v) would equal or exceed Samsung Galaxy sales.

This analysis suggests a narrow niche for the 11" Air. I have one and I like it, but if I were buying an Air today I'd get the 13". If I'm carrying a briefcase I might as well get the 13" Air or an iPad with Logitech Kb/Case. The 13" Air vs. iPad tradeoff is an interesting one -- for many travel cases I think the iPad wins on power and bandwidth consumption -- but see the comments -- Charlie Sross and Martin Steiger disagree. I can imagine a future version of OS X and OS X hardware with iPad like power and bandwidth use -- in which case I'd go Air.

[1] Swimsuit, running gear, nudist colony.
[2] I haven't seen mention of this, but my understanding is that Android handles variant screen geometry more easily than iOS. 
[3] Our devices must be influencing our clothing styles by now.

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