The Case for the iPhone Duo Dock

by Hadley Stern Jul 23, 2009

Many of us in the Apple universe, and many of the writers on Apple Matters have been somewhat (ok, totally) obsessed with the notion of an Apple NetBook. The arguments are many, economic, practical, religious and all are based on the premise that Apple must must must release a NetBook.

As I've been observing my compute behavior over the past few months I have come to notice to dominance of the iPhone. Indeed one argument out there is that the iPhone and iPod Touch are Apple's answer to the NetBook debate. If we take even a cursory glance at Apple's recent earning report the numbers would certainly seem to support this; iPhone sales trounced Mac sales last quarter.

But looking at my usage of the iPhone, if I'm honest, a lot of it relates to checking email and tweets, and, when needed, making short replies. This all falls apart when I need to do something more intense, like write this kind of article, update a spreadsheet, or adjust from images. I can't do that on the iPhone.

This is where the beauty of a NetBook comes in. For a few hundred bucks I can have this very lightweight thing with me all the time. If I need to write a longish email without getting thumb cramps I can.

Sometimes in order to look forwards we need to look back. In this case what we see is Apple's famed (ok, maybe only in my mind) Duo Dock product line. For those of you new to Apple, or too young to remember Duo Dock was a product line that sought to gets the best of both worlds, the laptop and desktop.

You can take a look at the detailed specs of the Duo Dock here. What is interesting about the Duo Dock is that it wasn't just a dock in the sense of what we see typically today. The Duo Dock added the possibility to add more VRAM and memory, leveraging the PowerBooks compute power and adding to it.

This leads me back to the iPhone. Apple is rightly proud to say it isn't a just a mobile phone, it is a mobile computer. Without getting into the details of the chipset etc in the current iPhone what if it was able, with the help of some kind of Duo Dock-like arrangement, to power monitor and keyboard. The iPhone could be plugged into a Duo Dock, which in this case would the the shell of a very light NetBook-like Apple piece of hardware.

Could be just a crazy idea, but Apple has done it before and this would be an extension of a platform that is outselling the Mac. If you could buy that type of device for $300 I bet you would.

What do you think? Let us know below!



  • Crazy idea, for sure but that doesn’t mean it would not work. The Powerbook Duo system was years ahead of its time. Now every PC notebook has a docking station of some sort.

    In this case, for the iPhone, a “netbook shell” the size of the Sony Vaio-P would be perfect! Very pocketable, full keyboard control, potentially larger screen for Office-type apps. When the work is over, pull the iPhone from the shell and go about your day with all of your projects and information still at your fingertips. This idea is great!

    And if it weren’t for the failure of the never released Palm Foleo this might have a chance. The company REDFLY has copied the Foleo concept and mirrors WinMobile devices to a netbook style device. Good concept, limited execution.

    So bring on the iPhone Duo Dock. I’d throw my $250-$300 for this.

    RB had this to say on Jul 23, 2009 Posts: 1
  • I for one would love to see this Duo Dock-like setup return with the iPhone.  I always liked the old Duo system and have hoped that Apple would come out again with another dock like it.

    In lieu of that, Apple could at least activate user interface Bluetooth profiles so we could use an external keyboard with the iPhone.  Seems to me there’s so much Apple could do with the iPhone as a real portable computer if they wanted to be serious about it.

    Matt had this to say on Jul 23, 2009 Posts: 1
  • Come to think of it, i remember using a 400mhz eMac a while ago and it was fine for small tasks. The 3gs has more computing power than that, why couldn’t it run tiger or some sort of lite leopard in destop mode?

    ediedi had this to say on Jul 23, 2009 Posts: 16
  • I’ve long anticipated that scenario, Hadley, where your handeld computer would drop into a dock on your desktop and become your desktop computer.

    Hadn’t know about the DuoDock, though.

    Your idea would make the whole thing work.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jul 23, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • The detachable bottom leaves a snug opening for the dock connector and speakers, while a single opening on the side lets you operate the volume buttons and ring/silent switch. -Yochanan Berkowitz

    YochananBerkowitz had this to say on Aug 19, 2011 Posts: 10
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