Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 - The Year of Mobility

A new year has begun, and it'll hopefully bring us lots of new experiences and happy moments. My predictions for the new year is that it will become the year of mobility and convergence.

Take a look at how people are using their cell phones now compared to only a couple of years ago. Taking pictures, sending MMS messages, adding entries to calendars, updaring todo-lists and listening to music are all activities that are becomming more and more common as these functions get more and more accessible.

Lets start with digital pictures. A cheap digital camera like the Kodak Easyshare C300 costs $99 and gives you a quality of 3.2 MP which should be sufficient to make acceptable prints. Paying $99 for a cell phone gives you a phone with a 1.5 MP camera (which will probably increase to around 3 MP during 2006), full PDA functionality (PIM), and an mp3–player.

Listening to music is easy, buying a cell phone with a big memory card is becoming more and more usual, and buying extended memory is cheap (I just bought a new MMC mobile card with 1 GB for around $80), giving you enough space to carry with you a subset of your music collection. Uploading mp3 files to your phone is also becoming more and more easy using Bluetooth or a USB cable.

So why will we stop using our iPods or digital cameras? They still provide superior quality over a cell phone, and is a specialized device created to solve a single and specific task.

First and foremost I think its a single-device issue. We don’t want to carry with us (nor remember to bring with us) three different devices. Next, when quality reaches an acceptable level (which is just around the corner for digital pictures on cell phones, and today for lsitening to music), early adopters will see the benefits of only having to carry with them one device.

A gadget like the cell phone is also a very strong bearer of identity, and buying a new phone once a year is not uncommon. So when you’re in the market for a new phone you will also look for models that signals something about you as a person. Being a music lover will probably make you buy a new model that is capable of playing your music. Just as owning an iPod was signaling both passion for music and giving you a credibility, I think owning a new hybrid phone capable of replacing your ipod and even take accetable pictures will probably become very interesting.

I’d like to point out that 2 MP digital cameras on cell phones are available today. The term Walkmanphone is already used extensivly by cell phone manufacterers when advertising new models. New innovations in world of mobile memory coupled with cheap mp3–player-embedded chips will drive the development of new models that will be capable of replacing our existing devices.

To sumarize: for how long do we think that owning an iPod or Nano will be cool…? I know that some of you will disagree to this, but these are my predictions for the new year.

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