Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Portable devices: lack of consolidation

Even five years ago, things were simple: you had PDAs, you had mobile phones, you had digital cameras and you had mp3 players. Synchronisation, if any, was always with a PC and by USB. Storage media were mostly supposed to stay inside the device. There was no particularly useable or affordable web access outdoors.

Nowadays, you have a head-spinning multitude of removable storage devices; you have various weird and wonderful attempts to unify the PDA and phone, you have camera phones and all intermediates between a PDA and notebook laptop. Everyone wants internet access through mobile networks, and everyone wants to be an mp3 player, even the USB sticks. Not to forget the games consoles that want to be more (anyone remember the Sega handheld games console that doubled as a TV?)

So where's the real innovation, where is the consolidation?

It's easy enough to come up with a concept for an ideal device, and I did so some time ago. But it seems to be incredibly hard for the large tech companies to integrate the technologies into one device in a sensible and user-friendly way. Notable exceptions are gizmondo and the Archos AV. I suspect that the technology companies' lack of confidence in users' abilities is a major part of the problem. Do technology leaders need to look for new methods for developing software that does exactly what the majority of potential users expect?

By the way, I'll probably be up for hire in about a year's time. ;)

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