Monday, December 26, 2005

A Phone or a Swiss Army Knife?

It's getting to that time when I should start looking for my new handset.

I choose the word carefully as today you are very lucky to find just a phone. Most handsets today are either a phone and media player, a phone and a camera (sometimes video), a phone and a PDA the list of combinations goes on and on.

Now this might be great in the marketing room "what can we do next?" but the point that is lost on many of the manufacturers is this; people want a phone first the rest is secondary.

Many of the hybrid handsets look good, can have great MP3 playback but suffer in size, ease of use of the main function (phone calls) or have poor battery life because of all the other gadgets hanging off of it.

It's very similar to the Swiss Army Knife, the knife is often too small to be used for much over opening your letters, the screwdriver is hard to use because the size of the body means you can't get to a lot of the screws on objects, the pliers have little leverage because the length is limited. What you're left with is a gadget that promises much but delivers little.

I have a camera that is much better than you'll ever get on to a phone handset, I have a small MP3 player which is ideal when I go running, I would like a phone that is a good size, long lasting battery and good voice quality. The way of things is similar to the IT Systems approach, one year ERP is the way to go; one system for all facets of your business, the next best of breed is the new direction; financials, billing, CRM all from different vendors connected with some sort of middle ware.

This is where the handset providers can be of assistance, the first one to produce a middleware for mobile devices will win a lot of fans. Bluetooth is everywhere these days after a slow and stuttering take up. If I had a bluetooth bridge that allowed me to use my phone with a wireless headset, send MMS with pictures pulled from my XD card on my camera, store and playback songs from my MP3 player through my headset I'd be a happy man.

In real terms I will end up getting a Nokia E series phone, primarily for one reason; I'm under pressure to have Blackberry or some other push mail service and I would like to have WiFi capability on my handset (UMA will be the next wave and more and more operators are trialling WiMax so why not). If I could get rid of the camera and all the other gubbins then that would be my basic requirement for a mobile device.

Incidently going back to Victorinox and their Swiss Army Knife, next year they release a new tool that has USB storage on it. I wonder when Nokia will go back to their roots and produce a phone with a knife large enough to fell a tree??