Mobile Trends: The Cell Phone Body Count
You may not realize it, but your mobile phone is a cold-blooded killer.
Its assault began with little fanfare—the first victim, the phone booth, wasn’t particularly well-loved, and nobody was expecting a complete extermination. Yet here we stand in a world where Clark Kent couldn’t find a place to pull on his Supersuit if the fate of Metropolis depended on it.
The next victims were just “accidents.” Seen anyone whip out a paper address book lately? And who would have thought that a little thing like the clock on the phone’s home screen could cause so many business professionals to stop wearing watches? Just who, exactly, is next?
For those looking over their shoulder, here are the three keys that will lead us to the next genre killer:
1. Every phone’s got it. Until a feature is a part of every phone, mainstream, non-tech-savvy America won’t notice that it’s there—camera phones only penetrated everyone’s consciousness when they were everywhere.
2. The user experience really works on a phone. Mobile TV is coming, but 50″ plasmas aren’t going—the 2″ experience just doesn’t compare. SMS remains the definitive mobile success story, but don’t wait for the end of email—at least not until someone solves the keyboard problem.
3. It crosses the Good Enough Threshold. The “GET” is the point where the best phone experience exceeds the minimum consumer bar for the feature. For example, the camera GET is two megapixels, autofocus, and flash. It’s no coincidence that this is about the quality level of a cheap disposable camera.
Following these rules, let’s break down the likely victims:
Point-and-shoot cameras—The writing’s on the wall.
There’ll always be a place for high end single-lens reflex models and the like. Enthusiasts will want the very best, regardless of cost or size. Most consumers, however, ask for two things from their camera: make it small and make it cheap. The GET for camera phones is being crossed as we speak, and then comes the end of the mass market digital camera. Who’s going to pay $250 for “just a camera” when their carrier just put one in their pocket for free? Danger level: critical.
Landline phones—The signal is still keeping busy.
The latest innovation often destroys its predecessor—CDs killed records, and DVD decimated VHS. The most obvious target for the phone, then, is the landline. But while the dial tone is clearly in decline, a tradition of reliability and security in case of emergency are keeping it alive. Burglar in the backyard? Hope you can get signal for 911. Extended power outage? Your touchtone telephone will be up and running, even as cell sites go offline and your phone battery dies. Installing an alarm for your house? Neither cellular nor VoIP are approved alternatives for trusty old copper. The GET for landline replacement is high reliability, and until carriers can guarantee it, the wires are safe. Danger level: moderate.
E-mail—Just a flesh wound.
SMS has revolutionized the way we communicate, but it’s still hard to beat … Next Page »