Mike, with the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC, aka Origami) about to become available, how about a tablet PC version of PlecoDict? Any plan for that, any licensing issue re: Wenlin or others? I am really looking forward to this device.
This is most definitely in the pipeline, yes - a big part of why we're doing a desktop version, in fact. Licensing isn't going to stop us; there are issues with one or two dictionary licenses, but the big three (ABC, NWP and our new Chinese-Chinese dictionary) all allow for a desktop version. Our software may do some of the same things as Wenlin, but just as on Palm/PPC it'll be designed around very different principles and I wouldn't really call it a direct competitor - we have a good working relationship with Wenlin and hope to continue that.
But I'm not sure how soon the UMPCs will be widely available - my best guess at this point would be sometime this fall in order to have them ready in quantity for Christmas.
I will have to make a prediction here, but as of now the UMPC feels like the Tablet PC all over again. It isn’t hard to imagine that the UMPC will end up in a market niche and replace the Tablet PC, which once was projected to revolutionize the notebook. Will the mass market care? No. It hasn’t care until now and will not care then.
For the consumer, it gets more interesting. Intel has MIDs (Mobile Internet Device) in mind, with a price tag of about $500, much less memory than a UMPC, flash memory instead of a hard drive and a very lean operating system. Intel is currently designing a new 45 nm processor, code-named “Silverthorne” for these devices (and future UMPCs). Silverthorne is said to be about as fast as a Pentium M four years ago and cost about as cost-efficient to manufacture as a 286 CPU.
As a result, Silverthorne will not be able to run Windows Vista, according to Kedia. In fact, the MIDs Intel is currently showcasing are running Ubuntu Linux and not Windows. Kedia said that initial MIDS will definitely be running some version of Linux, but the company is also talking to Microsoft to offer “some” version of Windows for the MID.
As an example for an early MID, Kedia pointed to Apple’s iPhone which is rumored to integrate several Intel components.
ok so we'll have MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) instead of UMPCs :?
Phones are becoming smartphones (I'm there already) notebooks are becoming lighter (mine is ultra light, certainly has limited horsepower but enough for most purposes), I also have an HD mp3 player and digital camera always with me, how many devices are we willing to purchase / carry?
This seems to be the real question, it all makes sense but is there a market?
While the UMPC specifically may not be doing so well, I still think phone-PC convergence is inevitable to some extent; there are just too many benefits to having your data / applications / etc available wherever you go, so once the technology gets to the point where you can have a UMPC with the memory capacity and processor speed of a midrange laptop (probably about 2-3 years away) I think a lot of people will start making the switch; carry your PC around with you during the day and dock it with a 20 inch monitor / full-size keyboard / etc at home.
Current UMPCs aren't that bad in this regard, though, the Sony UXes are pretty darn usable when they're hooked up as regular PCs, so a big part of what's missing is PC software optimized to work in both scenarios; a simple, pen-friendly, keyboard-light interface when you're using it on a 4" screen but a normal desktop application when the UMPC is docked. This is certainly something we're shooting for with the desktop version of PlecoDict, and I suspect that a lot of larger-profile apps will start to do it too; there's no reason Microsoft can't graft the Pocket Outlook interface onto regular Outlook, for example.
So combine the imminent leap in UMPC processor power and battery life with software that gives you at least a PDA/smartphone-caliber user experience and a $500ish price point and you've got something pretty close to the perfect device.
Just out of curiosity and pardon my limited knowledge of it, but would a Linux version possibly not be on the cards? I'm pretty interested in the whole UMPC concept but the idea of MIDs, assuming its got the support, appeals much more. Would it be easy to port Windows software over? For me, such a device would sell itself on its apps and Plecodict would be one of the apps.
A Linux version is certainly possible, but before we did that we'd probably start off just optimizing the Windows version to work with WINE; that way we could gauge whether or not the Linux-based market was big enough to justify a dedicated port before deciding whether to actually develop one.
Talking of UMPCs and Linux, does anyone know what if anything is happening to Wenlin? I'd quite like to go for a UMPC running Linux, really don't fancy Vista, but I couldn't do without a Wenlin, Pleco or some such :?
I haven't really heard anything from them about a new release (and probably shouldn't be the one to spill the details about it anyway), but it seems likely they'd put something out to coincide with the new bidirectional ABC dictionary DeFrancis & Co are working on.
A Linux version of PlecoDict is something we're certainly very interested in, wouldn't actually be that difficult a port since unlike some other platforms (*cough*BlackBerry*cough*) we could pretty much keep the same basic code structure we use now, but the business case for Linux is still a tricky one to make - on mobiles there's a *ton* of device-specific optimization that needs to be done, which is tough to justify with low-volume software like ours, and on PCs just about everyone running Linux still has the ability to run regular Windows software as well. So we're kind of waiting to see if one or two standard mobile or UMPC Linux platforms take over the market before making a decision about a Linux port.