Wednesday, January 03, 2007

iPods versus Cell Phones

Why am I comparing those two?
Basically because I'm an optimizer and a minimalist in some sense, can't help it, so I'd select very well which gadgets I carry around.
If you're going to carry out an iPod around, what is it giving to you? I believe nothing compared with a PDA enabled cellphone other than the slick design and the great standardarized hardware additions.
Cell phones are a platform that everybody is investing on big time, there's a huge bet on this market as a cell phone today has multiple advantages over any other portable gadget:
1. people have it with them everywhere, as the phone feature is essential to everybody.
2. they allow cheap messaging, quiet messaging and they're great for young markets or markets where the phone service is too expensive.
3. they have cameras and SD cards for extra memory and content portability.
4. it has internet connectivity, this is what is making it a huge opportunity. You can query the web, get news, instant messaging. As device screens and keyboards become better and web interfaces customized for phone access the usage is just going to explote. It might be the number one device for internet needs for a big amount of users.
5. they soon will have GPS as a standard. Huge opportunities again, specially when connected with web access.
6. music? you can download to your PDA phone any music you want from other devices or the web, listen to radios online, no problem.
7. synchronized calendar, contacts, emails, documents, files. Also, there will be more phone speciallized online services such as gmail.
8. you can load them with all sorts of applications, maps, utilities, games, custom software, there are nice developer sdks and it's getting more standarized.

To me it's a no brainer. There is a great opportunity in the cell phones market and the iPod should evolve soon or it will be history. I know I'm being harsh ... But I believe a lot of people will soon find out that with their PDA phones they can do all they can with an iPod and more and they might stop carrying the slick dumb device around.


Alejandro said...


I probably agree with you in the long term, but is is my personal opinion that the convergence of these devices will take more time than is usually though.
There are subtle components in the iPod/phone equation that need to be taken into account:
- User experience ( most cellphone music interfaces are incredibly bad)
- Simplicity and style the iPod does not have 80% of market share because it has more features or it's cheaper, it's because is better designed and beautiful ;
has a status appeal and ease of use
- The 3th and 7th points apply to iPods as well (probably 8 is coming : games and utils that can run from ipods
- Generic software that can run from any storage device will run from mp3 and USB drives

Given the current technology you'll probably have to carry 2 or 3 devices for 5 or 10 years, until you have a phone with all the features you mention , with decent software to match . And it should be white with a wheel :-)

Cecilia Abadie said...

Hey, welcome back!
There are big lessons to be learned from iPods, I agree on style and simplicity on being the two most interesting ones.
If I was Microsoft and I was trying to compete with iPods though, I'd though of doing it on a more creative way such as improving the user experience on Windows Mobile and pushing that further on the market instead of copying with little improvement when they're hitting so late.
Anyway, that's the beauty of evolution: unpredictability. We can guess, and then we watch and learn ... to white wheel or not to white wheel ;)