mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Will the phone replace the iPod?

Via Slashdot comes news that Bill Gates thinks mp3 phones will kill the iPod. Of course, Gates expects those phones to be running Windows Mobile, so this is like GM announcing that in a few years all cars will be Chevrolets.

But running Windows or not, I can't imagine cell phones replacing the iPod or MP3 players in general. I think Apple will hold the MP3 player market for a while - they have become ubiquitous as the MP3 player, in the same way that one thinks "Kleenex" instead of "facial tissue". Even if Apple loses the MP3 player market, I think it will be to another MP3 player vendor, not to cell-phone MP3 players.

Sure, some people will use them, but I think most people won't. Why? For one thing, all in one devices tend to do lots of things, but do few things well. Cell phone cameras take lousy pictures, scanner/copier/printers do none of those things well, and the Subaru Baja (ie Brat) is kind of useless as a pickup.

Also, many people, myself included, use an MP3 player for exersizing, and don't want the bulk or complexity of a cell phone. The iPod Shuffle has been sucessful for that reason - because it's simple, not because it has lots of features. I can't imagine trying to jump to a song on a cell phone with anything near the ease of an iPod. People tend to buy devices because they have all kinds of complex features that sound great but aren't easy to use. I have a TV that I've owned for 6 years that has picture in picture. I've never figured out how to work it, and I have a degree in Information Systems. Want to try to figure out how to navigate a cell MP3 player while you are on the treadmill, and risk accidently calling your mom and panting?

So I think iPods, and single-function devices in general are going to be around for a while.

EDIT Welcome, Slate readers. Consider sticking around and reading some of my other entries, several of which actually are coherent and make sense. More importantly, I've written a second post on the subject that addresses some of the first commenter's comments - and includes 2 crappy, very blurry pictures!


At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Gates has a point, but it'll be a long time before an all-in-one device -- phone, camera, MP3 player, PDA -- handles any one application well. It'll happen eventually, but it'll take at least another five years, I think.

In that time, Apple could well invest the effort to build its own cellphone -- after all, it has long-standing ties to Motorola (which participated in the creation of Apple's breakthrough chips), and the recent upsurge in Motorola's market share (passing Nokia in Central/South America, and made advances against them in every market) is largely thanks to its recruitment of people from the Apple design team that brought you the iMac and iPod.

A mobile OS with Apple-style usability, and Mach Kernel style efficiency, would be a beautiful thing to behold.

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After losing my ipod, I recently purchased a 1GB ipod shuffle. I thought it was so cool: super lightweight, holds plenty of music, easy to use, and acceptable sound quality.

Then I lost my motorola phone and replaced it with a sony ericsson s710a, because I thought it looked cool. After I got my new phone, I found out it can play mp3s. It can play songs through the included stereo handsfree headset, or a built in speaker that sounds amazing for the size. It comes with 32 MB built in memory and a 32 MB memory stick. the memory stick can be upgraded to 2GB. I just bought my ipod shuffle and now have no use for it. I have to carry my phone anyway, so no matter how small or light the shuffle is, it can't be lighter than no separate mp3 player at all. Most amazing of all, the phone actually sounds BETTER than ipod! yes my phone sounds better than my ipod. i'm sure a lot of it has to do with the crappy headphones that come with ipods, which could be upgraded. But the phone even has an equalizer, while the only audio control on the shuffle is volume. Maybe because Sony has more experience with portable audio devices than Apple.

Phone making mp3 players obsolete: will it happen?

I have news: it already has... it just hasn't caught on yet.

Not to mention this phone has a 1.3 megapixel camera in it! does that make digicams obsolete? at 1.3 mp, not yet... but they're getting there. And it's good enough for most apps. The all-in-on that does everything well will be a reality very soon. No, I don't work for sony...I just really really love my new toy.


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