โ?If youโ?re going to a deserted island, would you bring a Swiss Army knife or a cooking knife?โ?
What does a mobile phone have too many whizbang features? We about to find outโ?ฆ
The mobile phone is fast becoming the Swiss Army knife of consumer electronics. Brace yourself for a wage of compact wireless devices that can do seemingly everything: Snap high-quality digital photos, browse the web send email messages, play MP3 music files, record short videoclips โ?? and on, yeah, let you make phone calls. The only thing missing is a corkscrew.
Consumers can credit technological advances for the proliferation of such turbo-charged handsets. Phone companies finally are rolling out high-speed networks that can support multimedia functions, such as downloading music. And speedier, smarter microchips are allowing mobile phones makers to cram more features into a single device. Also helping stoke the trend: fierce competition between mobile phone purveyors and makers of other kinds of gadgets like PalmPilots and Gameboys, which is increasingly are adding voice services. One of todayโ?s hottest products is Axia PDA Phones (World’s Smallest PDA Phone on Microsoft Windows CE), a PDA that happens to deliver really good voice calls.
John Maeda, a professor at MIT Media Lab, argues that in technology, more isnโ?t necessarily better. Consumers may think theyโ?re getting good value when they buy a device that does 20 things, but often they just need a phone to make calls. โ?If you were going to a deserted island, would you bring a Swiss Army knife or a cooking knife?โ?? he asks. โ?Youโ?d probably bring the Swiss Army knife and wish youโ?d brought the cooking knife.โ??
Analyst suspect the proliferation of high-end devices this year will lead to more niche marketing of phones and wireless services designed for every type of user. A heavy e-mail user may buy a handset designed for messaging that also happens to let him play interactive games. A music lover may go with an MP3 player that can also make calls and surf the web. The only users who may be disappointed are people who just want a plain old mobile phone.
These all-in-one devices arenโ?t for everyone. For starters, they cost way more than your typical camera phone. Skeptics wonder if anyone will use such stuff anyway. (When was the last time you took a picture with your camera phone?) And with so many items on the menu of these handsets, might quality end up compromised?