Nirvana Phone. Is the Motorola Atrix the answer?

Today Motorola announced their new flagship phone, the Motorola Atrix. Citrix right after announced they are shipping the Citrix Receiver on this device and Chris Fleck also blogged about this phone as being the first true ‘Nirvana Phone’, a term they coined years ago for a phone that one day would be the perfect replacement for the road warriors out there.

As this info was under NDA, before the announcement I was discussing which phone this would be (as none of the CTPs had that information) and I mentioned before the announcement that I was certain it was the Atrix, what was later confirmed. ­čÖé

So here is my take on the Atrix and on the whole Nirvana phone concept and how I see this working one day.

First it will take more than manufacturers to make this idea work. The goal is to have a phone and from that be able to do almost everything you need during the day. Sure people have different needs and for that reason no phone will ever be the silver bullet that will work for every single person out there.

Secondly, if I need to carry ANYTHING, it defeats the purpose IMHO. For example, as of today even with the Atrix, you will need to travel with a bluetooth keyboard (and potentially a mouse), a dock, cables to hook this up to a TV/Monitor and so on. Well if that is the case I will carry my DAMN LAPTOP!

Of course if hotels for example would start offering bluetooth keyboards/mice combos even for a small rental fee per day, that would help a LOT this idea. I personally would pay US$ 4 a day for this. After all, the target market for this is probably someone that is always on the road on business so US$ 4 a day extra on expenses will not create another breakdown of the US economy. Even with the hotels jumping into this idea, unless they also provide docks and cables you would still need to carry something.

That brings us to Apple and their iOS. Not many people dug into AirPlay and what this could mean for this concept. If Apple opens up AirPlay to third parties AND work with other manufacturers to embed this into TVs, Monitors, Receivers, etc this would make an iOS device the true Nirvana thing. Just being able to walk into a hotel room and from your pocket send the video-out of the Citrix Receiver to the TV and wirelessly use a keyboard/mouse would be much better than having a dock and cables, even hotel provided ones (what I do think would help a lot this ‘Nirvana Phone’ ┬áconcept). An iPad in this case would be the perfect thing to carry as it has a large enough screen for the local apps and processing power to run some very decent ones (what would mean companies writing iOS apps that tie into their backend systems/databases) when offline and when in a hotel room, use the Citrix Receiver/AirPlay to really shine as a Thin Client.

Regarding the Atrix, I still think it suffers from the same issues as any other Android device: giving the power back to the carriers. As an example, the Android device I have, bought 18 months ago from our loved carrier in Canada, Robbers (ok, it is Rogers), came with Android 1.6 and the freaking bastards over there refuse to release ANY updates for this particular phone. So once I rooted the damn thing and loaded Android 2.2, things got better. But this is NOT supported by the carrier and more than that, it is not really something you would give to most users to do. That is the main reason why I think Android sucks.

Add to that the fragmentation now created by Motorola, LG, Sony, Samsung and so on where an Android application that runs on a device like the Atrix will not work the same way on an HTC phone with their ‘Sense’ interface. In that respect, controlling the OS proved to be the right thing to do, at least from taking the power off the carriers and giving it back to the users. At the end it is up to me to decide if I do want to run the latest and greatest OS on the device I BOUGHT, not to the carrier. Their answer to that is ‘just buy the new model and get into another three year contract with us’. Sure, they want to milk the cow. Yes, you are the cow.

For the Apple bashers/haters out there, I do accept the fact my old iPhone 2G cannot run iOS 4. It is the same reason why your Pentium MMX laptop cannot run Windows 7. This market is used to that. But not intentionally preventing your Intel i5 machine from running Windows 7 just because it shipped with Windows XP.

So back to the whole Nirvana phone topic and resuming: I like the idea but I do think the Atrix is far from being the ‘One’ (hint to Motorola – name the next one Motorola ‘Neo’) and without help from other businesses like hotels, there will always be a drawback for this concept to really take off. And finally in my mind Apple is the one that can pull this off, given the traction iTunes will bring to AirPlay enabled devices like TVs and Monitors, really making things easier and better for us consumers.

I guess time to start a keyboard/mouse rental business that will partner with someone like Hilton…


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