Do People Want Converged Devices?

from the no,-but-yes... dept

A new report has come out (and I swear we’ve seen similar ones in the past) claiming that people don’t want converged mobile phones and PDAs, as there are fears that converged devices do everything badly and/or that they start to include useless/pointless features. Of course, part of the problem is that the survey is asking people if they want “converged devices,” and not about what they’d do with a converged device. The thing is, if given the option of doing what a real converged device let people do, many people would go for that option. It’s not about the device, but the applications of that device.

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Comments on “Do People Want Converged Devices?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

I don’t think PDA-cellphones will work well until a new display technology comes along. Current cellphone screens are too small for PDA applications, and PDAs are too bulky to be used as cellphones. Maybe a wireless earpiece/mic could solve the problem.

Other types of convergence, like adding mp3 player capability, makes more sense.

Steve Mueller (user link) says:

A Different Convergence

I wouldn’t use a PDA as a cell phone, either. However, if a PDA included phone capabilities, I’d consider one — because of the simplified data connectivity.

In other words, I’d use the phone capabilities for connecting to the Internet, not making phone calls. I even wrote an editorial about this way back in 2003.

So while I’d still probably carry a cell phone with my connected PDA, I’d also have the ability to use the PDA as a phone if something happened to my cell phone (dead battery, lost, stolen, etc.).

Erik Ableson says:

PDA Phones can be OK

Well, as someone who uses a Treo 600, I can say that I find it a reasonable comprise between the two worlds. That said, I use the Palm portion as a PDA, that’s to say, my remote calendar, cotnacts and to do list, and not a media station or a document editor or any of the things that are migrating their way onto PDAs. Email is passable, but I don’t usually bother since my volume of mail is way too high to be effectively manageable over a GPRS connection. SMS is a lot easier with the keyboard than the various shortcut implementations that I’ve used.
As for the form factor, I remember using the old Motorola brick phone (pre flips) and dealing with the size. Today a Treo is larger than many of the phones on the market today, but it’s still small enough to fit in a suit pocket and fulfil both duties quite well.
Anecdote, I had some problems with the microphone on the Treo and had the use of a Siemens S55 on loan while the Treo was being repaired. While I appreciated the bluetooth syncing, the calendar functions are practically useless, I overloaded the contact list limit and navigation to numbers is exceedingly lame. They don’t handle large lists elegantly, and the screen is way too small for PDA functions.
That said, a palm screen is more than adequate and the tight integration of the phone features with the contact list allows me to get to a person in 2 or three button pushes, even with a contact list that exceeds 600 people.
I guess the large difference is defining the expectations of the PDA. If you are using it as it was originally designed, the Palm phone combo is very nice. If you want to edit Word and Excel documents on the go, you’re pushing the limits (although the higher res Treo 650 screen might improve this).
For the moment, it works for me – instead of a phone in the left pocket and a palm in the right, I have on device.

Mark says:

cut-rate convergence

Convergence works if it’s basically free. That is, if I’m in the market for a PDA, and for just a bit more I can get a PDA/cell phone, I’ll probably go that route since it gives me more flexibility at not much more cost. However, if I see a device on the market that includes six functions, and it costs almost as much as six separate devices that specialize in those functions, but it does those six functions relatively poorly and I personally am only interested in three of the functions, there’s no way I’ll buy it. Convergence that’s forced on me at a premium price solves no problems in my life and represents no value to me as a consumer. Unfortunately, the latter model is more common in the marketplace: poorly-conceived combo devices that exist solely because some executive decided he’d like to sell them, rather than because there’s a market of people waiting to buy them.

Andrew says:

Return of the all-in-one stereo

Well I’m dating myself with this post I know, but converged devices remind me of those all-in-one stereo systems that were popular when I was a kid in the 70s. Ya got your turntable, your 8-track, your AM/FM radio and your amp all in one package. Wanna replace any one? You’re out of luck.
For me, the same concept holds for mobile devices. Just as with audio equipment, components are where it’s at. My ideal would be a little receiver/transmitter that I could keep in my pocket that spoke WIFI, bluetooth and the cell protocol du jour, a small form factor PDA-style input device with memory and screen and an earbud/microphone. Separate components all talking to each other via bluetooth. Frankly, I don’t want to hold a Palm Pilot up to my ear. Nor do I understand why I need to carry around two input devices (cell and PDA).

Steve Mueller (user link) says:

Combined Stereos And Pocket Transmitter

Maybe you haven’t noticed that converged stereos (and other home entertainment systems) are still around and, seemingly, popular. The stereos are called boom boxes and executive systems. Yes, boom boxes aren’t generally meant for home use, but neither are cell phones and PDAs. There are also combined TVs with VCRs and/or DVD players.

As for carrying a WiFi/Bluetooth/cell connection in my pocket, why not just get a vasectomy? I’m not sure I want all that radiation near my crotch.

I’m thinking more along the lines of what Mark said, but I don’t require convergence to be essentially free. I’ll pay a small premium for a converged device if the convergence is done well and doesn’t severely cripple the functions compared to dedicated devices.

For example, I use my Pocket PC as my MP3 player. With a 1 GB SD card, I can hold more music than I listen to at any one time, the function is built-in to the OS and I don’t need another device on my belt.

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