Thursday, September 29, 2005

Uncertain future of standalone portable devices

Convergence of cellphones, MP3 players, PDAs and GPS devices hints at uncertain future of each of these standalones

There isn’t a single day when the news regarding a new mobile device is profiled in the market with either enhanced digital cameras, or MP3 integration or as a matter of fact,support for 3G. Where is all this headed? One word that comes to mind is “Convergence”, yes that world has been around for a while, but seems like the concept is catching a lot of momentum now. Just some trends that I have noticed lately to make it more clear:

- Motorola announces ROKR with Apple ITunes
- Samsung announces cellphone with 4 GB hard drive and enhanced
- Camera Phones available with over 2 Megapixel resolution and enhanced “Flash” capabilities
- Next version of Moto RAZR to feature video conferencing capabilities
- Blackberry 8700 slated to have GPS integration
- Sprint announces WIndows Mobile 5.0 phone with support for CDMA

Try to connect the dots, all these devices seem to be merging into one, call it the “ubiquitous personal companion” and that is the theme that mobile hardware manufacturers are targeting. This is evident from not just the product showcases but the thrust of the Industry and the fact that deluge of mobile operatings system environments, or should I say evolution. Look at Windows Mobile 5, Symbian or Palm OS Cobalt, their evolution is providing a lot of glue for this convergence to happen.

Bottomline is that, the future of all these devices standalone is in uncertain, since the synergies of them together outweigh the merits of each of them standalone, and that is how the market is starting to accept it (consider how omnipresent Camera phones are today versus 2 years ago). The million dollar question is, who would want to carry couple pounds of disparate devices rather than have a single device that integrates all your needs into a half pound gizmo? Who won’t go for it? Think about it....

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