Now that everybody has jumped on the Netbook bandwagon, a new mobile device parade is pulling into town. Led by Qualcomm, so-called Smartbooks are slated to debut in late 2009. Expected to be slightly larger than the iPhone, Smartbooks are mobile Internet devices (MIDs) that run Windows, Google Android and a range of Linux alternatives. Here's the scoop from The VAR Guy.

Qualcomm's Smartbook effort starts with Snapdragon, described as a platform that:
offers an unprecedented combination of processing performance and optimized power consumption for the new generation of smart mobile devices. With Snapdragon chipsets, devices are always connected and aware and can offer all the communications users demand, including 3G mobile broadband, WiFiBluetooth® and GPS. Snapdragon-based devices are thin, ultra-portable and easy to use, with an intuitive user interface and mobile OS.
Qualcomm claims "a wide variety of Snapdragon-based smartbooks are already in design today."

Sound far fetched? Apparently not. Qualcomm is telling customers to:
Look for smartbooks in all of their forms–from larger, sub-notebook designs to compact, touch-screen tablets and beyond–beginning fall 2009.
Qualcomm also is staffing up for the Smartbook effort. In a recent advertisement, Qualcomm seeks a Linux software engineer who can:
"work with leading OEMs and software vendors to create a new class of device and user-experience dubbed smartbook. These devices combine the always-on, always-connected capabilities of a smartphone with a larger screen, full keyboard, and a more compelling form-factor and user-experience than traditional notebooks/netbooks. 3G is everywhere and fast and Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets are small, powerful and power-efficient - join us to redefine mobile computing."
The VAR Guy wants to learn more -- but he's also a bit skeptical of Mobile Internet Devices. Intel and Canonical previously tried to rally the industry around Ubuntu Linux for MIDs. But Intel seems to be focusing far more on Moblin (Mobile Linux) these days, and Canonical's own MID efforts have been hit-and-miss. One reason: Customers and OEMs seem preoccupied with Netbooks.

Help Wanted: Linux, Ubuntu, ARM

Still, The VAR Guy wonders if Qualcomm Smartbooks will energize Ubuntu in the MID market. According to Qualcomm's help-wanted ad, ideal candidates need to have experience in such areas as:
ARM kernel development, board bring-up, Linux device drivers (USB, SD, display, WiFi), Ubuntu/?Debian, bootloaders, uboot
Hmmm. The VAR Guy will continue to track the Smartbook story as it unfolds.