Mobile Phones Shouldn't Be TVs
from the not-going-far... dept
In the past few months three major mobile phone makers (Sony, Samsung and Nokia) have announced plans to add TV tuners to their mobile phones and one major carrier (Sprint PCS) has launched a painfully slow (2 frames per second!) streaming TV option for some of their subscribers. The whole thing reminds me of the hype around portable TVs that were popular for a week or two in the eighties as the second coming of the walkman system. The idea was that if you liked carrying around your radio, wouldn't you like to carry around your TV as well? The answer turned out to be a big fat no, and most of the people who bought the TVs realized they never actually needed to watch TVs when they were out and about - because they were out and about doing something. So, why is the industry making the same mistake? Douglas Rushkoff thinks it's even worse, because having the mobile phone industry focusing on silly things like adding television to phones means they're spending less attention on improving the real reason people buy mobile phones: to have good voice calls. All the money and effort being spent on adding TVs no one wants could be better spent improving the mobile phone networks. He also has an interesting categorization of screen device "scales": inch, foot, yard. Inch devices (PDAs, phones) are for personal content or small bits of content - not for massive data retrieval. Foot devices (TVs, monitors) work as well for data input and data retrieval - and can be shared by just a few people at the same time. Yard devices (movie screens, big screen TVs, whiteboards) are better designed for one-to-many broadcast communication. He points out that realizing the basic size of the screen suggests the type of applications it's good for - and focusing too much on applications out of the sensible realm doesn't make sense.