Samsung Aims Ultramobile PC at Businesses

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-07-24 Print this article Print

Samsung, which recently re-entered the U.S. PC market with its Q1 ultramobile PC, sees the device in the hands of business users. If things go well, it might bring back Samsung-brand notebooks to the United States.

Samsung Electronics has big plans for its tiny Q1 ultramobile PC.

Despite a less than warm initial reception for the diminutive PC category by analysts—ultramobile PCs are small, keyboard-less handheld computers capable of running Microsoft's Windows XP—Samsung said its Q1 UMPC has exceeded its expectations, particularly for businesses.

And now it's raising the bar.

Samsung, which had not sold a Samsung-brand PC in the United States for several years before the May 2006 launch of the Q1, expects to announce soon at least one deal to sell quantities of the $1,100 UMPC to a corporation.

Meanwhile, depending on the success of the device, its future plans include at least one Q1 follow-on and possibly offering Samsung-brand notebooks again in the United States.

"What we've seen is that once people are actually holding a UMPC, they start to see the possibilities. Seeing pictures or reading about it doesn't do it justice," said David Nichols, director of product marketing for Samsung Electronics' Information Technology Division, based in Irvine, Calif.

"Let's face it. This product in terms of specs doesn't line up well with some of the more traditional notebooks out here," he added.

UMPCs were originally intended by Microsoft and Intel for consumers to keep up on e-mail, watch videos or listen to music. But the devices' price, typically $1,000 or more, and usability have generally been lacking, said Richard Shim, an analyst at IDC in San Mateo, Calif.

"Based on usability and price point…the prospects aren't promising," for the UMPC right now, Shim said.

"Samsung needs to lower the price. They need to increase the convenience of using the device—it's not a very intuitive device right now—[and] realistically, they have to wait for the market to catch on to the idea."

However, Samsung also saw business applications for its Q1. Despite the criticisms leveled against the UMPC, such as its price, some IT managers have embraced the device, Nichols said.

He mentioned that there is a lot of traction in the education area, in the healthcare environment and also in the mobile sales area.

"We're exceeding the initial expectations that the group had for the product…now we have raised the bar. We're excited about the prospects we see going forward."

Samsung, which sent about three dozen Q1s to IT managers around the United States for testing, now feels that it is close to being able to announce at least one relatively large deal, Nichols said.

The Q1's small size—it's far smaller than a lightweight tablet PC, which might come with a 10-inch or 12-inch display and weigh between three and five pounds—means it's easier to carry for highly mobile workers such as field sales agents or medical personnel, Nichols said.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Samsung Means Business with Its Q1 UMPC

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET News.com, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.