Are we heading towards a mobile convergence utopia where one device will be a phone, camera, MP3 player, GPS, game console, PIM, and overall super-gadget? Or, are we going to be buying more narrowly feature-focused best-of-breed mobile devices with separate mobile phone, camera, etc., etc.?
I was in the in super duper ultra-converged Star Trek Tricorder type device camp until I reviewed a good but non-smartphone, the
Sony Ericsson T610
back in late 2003.
Back then, I wrote:
The T610 performs fewer functions than either the PDA-phones or the smartphones. However, it delivers these fewer functions extremely well and with excellent battery-power efficiency. Its excellent and easy-to-configure Bluetooth capability lets you easily pair it with whatever Bluetooth-enabled PDA or notebook PC for a custom-fit mobile computing environment. It may be, then, that this kind of best-of-breed individual components provides a better mobile-computing model for some of us by providing a simpler and timelier upgrade path for different phone and PDA features.
Since then we’ve seen even more converged devices mostly with the phone-camera-mp3-game mix.
However, we’ve also seen really good single function devices like MP3 players (the iPod and others), small high density USB storage drives, and lots of low-priced mobile phones that are mostly used for voice and text messaging.
And, since the process of getting devices approved for use as mobile phones is far longer and more difficult than getting other kinds of devices to market, perhaps converging functions on the phone slows down product delivery.
So, maybe it would be better if manufacturers slowed down the convergence effort and take another look around. I know I think I might be better off as a consumer and end-user if I had a good solid mobile phone that had only good voice quality, good battery life, a solid Bluetooth 2.0 stack, and fast data service.
Assuming it could reliably connect any other device I was carrying (PDA, camera, MP3 player, etc.) to connect to the Internet, I could still do everything I do today and pick and choose what I upgrade (new camera, new MP3 player, etc.) as new devices come to market.
What do you think? Which way are we heading? To device convergence or divergence?