You've heard of Smart Phones and Netbooks. Now, get ready for Smartbooks -- mobile 3G wireless devices that appear to be slightly larger than the iPhone. Qualcomm is rallying hardware partners (OEMs, original equipment manufacturers) to introduce Smartbooks sometime in Q3 or Q4 2009. And here's the twist: Qualcomm is hiring Ubuntu talent to help drive the project forward.

In a recent Monster.com 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.”
Qualcomm further describes the Smartbook effort here.

Rise of Mobile Internet Devices?

In many ways, Qualcomm's Smartbook vision seems to match Canonical's vision for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs).

Roughly one-third of WorksWithU's readers are eager to purchase Ubuntu-based MIDs, according to a reader poll we conducted in January 2009. But the MID market has been slow to materialize -- partly because Smart Phones offer some MID functionality, and also because Netbooks burst onto the scene and became so popular.

But proponents think MIDs can carve out a niche -- much in the way that the iPhone Touch sits somewhere between smart phones and notebooks.

Backed by Qualcomm, a range of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) apparently are developing MID-like devices, branded as Smartbooks. And Qualcomm's decision to hire Ubuntu talent for the effort bodes well for Canonical's mobile strategy.

Still, Smartbooks will run a range of operating systems -- Windows, Google Android and plenty of Linux variants, according to some early Qualcomm documentation I've read.

We'll be sure to watch how Ubuntu's role in the fledgling Smartbook market evolves.

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