Did cellphones kill the camera and the MP3 player? Probably not, but it’s still fun to speculate why mobile devices are taking over the world.
According to an article over on Wired, the five gadgets that saw an early demise because of the nasty cellphone beast includes the PDA, the camera, the UMPC, an actual wall-mounted phone and the MP3 player. That may sound crazy, but looking at Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s Blackberry, one can’t help but wonder if devices like MP3 players and home-based phones could really be a thing of the past. Could cellphones even take down the mighty laptop? Sorry, that might be pushing it a bit.
But let’s be honest: current cellphones eat up battery power like kids in a candy factory. To even consider that consumers would resort to listening to music on cellphones by default is utterly ridiculous... or so it would seem. Granted the ability is useful every now and then, but it’s difficult to fathom Apple’s iPod or Creative’s Zen biting the dust anytime soon because the Blackberry can play MP3s or WMAs. The same goes for any kind of built-in camera: while they’re useful in quick situations, cellphone cameras aren’t exactly the ideal device for family snapshots or detailed vacation highlights. Wired is correct though, cellphone cameras speak to a young demographic who love to take quick snapshots of groupies, credit card numbers, and/or private parts.
Probably the biggest adversary to the cellphone is the actual landline however. What’s more convenient than taking to friends and family no matter the location, whether it’s the back yard, on the toilet or from Santa’s lap down at the local mall. Unless calls are forwarded to mobile devices, landlines only stretch so far when using a wireless phone. In July AT&T reported its second-quarter results, specifying that while the wireless aspect of its services continued to grow, the landline voice services were actually down 7.8 percent from the first quarter of 2007; retail consumer lines fell a whopping 5.4 percent between 2006 and 2007. However, cellphones aren’t wholly responsible for the decline: digital phone services and the overall economy plays a big role as well.
As for PDAs, its slow death began many years ago as laptops became ultra-portable and cellphones took on more of an intelligent form. HP and Palm are but two manufacturers still keeping the PDA alive, the former currently selling the iPAQ 211 Enterprise Handheld Organizer for a whopping $450 and the iPAQ 111 Classic Handheld Organizer for $300. But PDAs have been around since the early 1980s, so it’s no surprise that the "personal data assistant" would eventually come to an end.
Still, when considering cellphones such as Apple’s iPhone 3G and RIM’s Blackberry Storm, and their intentional capability to play music, video, surf the web and take pictures, it’s easy to see how separate MP3 players and cheap cameras could be phased out. Throw in touch-screen technology and an uber-quick wireless network, many consumers just might decide to abandon laptops altogether. With cellphones taking an open approach to user-created applications, these devices are becoming more like pocket PCs rather than instruments originally dedicated to making calls wirelessly.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a little game playing either. Don’t be surprised to see mobile phones taking a bigger portion of the gaming market as the years go by. Although not a cellphone, by the looks of it, Apple’s iPod touch just might be a step in the right direction as far as portable graphics are concerned... and it’s super slim, too. Perhaps consumers will eventually see game visuals heading in that direction, with the inclusion of left and right triggers planted on the cellphone’s backside or a built-in accelerometer. If that happens, cellphones could get blamed for the death of portable gaming consoles as well.