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Samsung is trying to turn your smartphone into a desktop computer — an idea that has failed miserably in the past

One Time: Galaxy S8 DeX
Brad Barket | Stringer | Getty

With the Galaxy S8, Samsung is once again trying make the argument that a smartphone can serve as a full PC, but chances are it's going to fail just like every other company that's tried this.

If you were following along with Samsung's Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ announcements yesterday, you may have missed Samsung's discussion of a new "DeX dock." It's a new accessory for the Galaxy S8 that will allow the smartphone to attach right into a monitor, keyboard and mouse and attempt to serve as a full desktop computer. It's an area where Microsoft, Motorola, ASUS and other smartphone makers have all failed. Samsung, unfortunately, doesn't look like it's off to a much better start.

The idea behind the DeX dock and other similar technologies — Microsoft's was called Continuum — is simple. If executed properly, a smartphone owner should be able to carry a single device, his or her smartphone, and plug it into a special dock to use it like a traditional computer.

Microsoft Continuum failed for several reasons, and Samsung didn't address the primary one.

Even though Continuum ran too slow, and it didn't support full Windows applications, those weren't the big problem. The real problem: Nobody is asking for this functionality. No one, at least who I can think of, wants to spend money on an additional accessory and then use it as a watered-down computing device without access to real macOS or Windows applications.

This is almost impossible to execute in the enterprise, too, even though Samsung is touting support from Cisco and other companies with solid grounding in the sector. If Microsoft, the darling of corporate America, couldn't get Continuum off the ground, how the heck is Samsung going to fare any better?

And let's not forget that plenty of companies are still running dated versions of Windows because IT departments take their time in moving to new systems. Are they really going to jump to providing employees with a brand new Galaxy S8, a dock, and support for the entire new system? It's a pipe dream I can appreciate, but it's never going to happen, at least not with the Galaxy S8.

Here's how this "smartphone as full PC" needs to work.

The smartphone needs to run a full version of macOS or Windows, especially if it's supposed to be adopted by the enterprise. It needs to be completely wireless. Imagine walking into work and sitting down at your desk, your monitors light up and you're up and running, all thanks to the smartphone that never left your pocket. When you go home, your smartphone knows that you're no longer at work and pulls up a totally different computing environment in your home office.

That's how the future of full smartphone computing looks. I applaud Samsung for making yet another attempt, but it's going right to the graveyard with Continuum.