That's what PC suppliers seem to hope, as they look towards smartphones becoming the next big thing after ultraportables - 'netbooks' to almost everyone except Psion, which has a trademark on the term.

The latest to give the smartphone market a shot is Acer, which has bought Taiwanese developer E-Ten which sells phones under the Glofiish brand. Acer's "new" dual-SIM X960 looks remarkably like last year's Glofiish DX900, for instance.

The argument offered by Aymer de Lenquesaing, who runs Acer's smartphone group, is that mobile phones are a high-volume low-margin business, just like PC assembly, but one whose disciplines differ from those of building PCs.

The question for companies such as Acer is just how different those disciplines will turn out to be. They seem to assume that because the PC market commoditised on the back of Microsoft Windows, the smartphone business will do the same on Windows Mobile - but are they right?

For one thing, it means your ability to innovate is circumscribed by what Microsoft gives you to work with, as we could see from the fact that Acer's handsets looked very like everyone else's handsets. A model with a big touchscreen and no keyboard? Check. A model with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard? Check. A compact slider? You guessed it...

De Lenquesaing came under fire from some journalists at Acer's UK smartphone launch - not just because of the me-too aspect, but also because Acer sells Linux on its Aspire ultraportables, and if you're a Linux user you're not going to have much fun getting your WinMob device to synch up.

After he commented that "It is important to start by offering a solution to users that actually works, and Windows is a good starting point," it struck me that, for all their bought-in expertise, the PC crew really do think smartphones are just even-smaller PCs.

On the one hand, they tell us they're using WinMob because it's what people want, or because it synchs with desktop Windows - remember here that WinMob is NOT Windows, it just looks and works a bit like it. 

(The synch claim is a load of old cobblers, of course. There's plenty of other software that synchs perfectly well with desktop Windows - even Nokia has managed to turn its PC Suite into something that actually works as intended, at long last.)

On the other, almost all the WinMob-using phone developers then go on to add their own user interface on top, as indeed Acer does. They usually say this is to "streamline the user experience", or some-such.

What they're really doing, of course, is putting lipstick on a pig. It's just like when, on the desktop, people buy Microsoft because it's what everyone else buys, but then discover they have to jump through all sorts of hoops to make it do what they really want it to do.  

As you might have guessed, I don't buy it - smartphones are just too different from PCs. Apple understands that, as do Nokia and RIM (most of the time).

De Lenquesaing and his fellows know they're different, but it seems they don't want to admit just how different - they think it's all a matter of user behaviour, and Web 2.0, and making a user's content available everywhere.

Will that be enough to make everyone and their dog buy a cheap-as-chips WinMob smartphone? You tell me.