Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Convergence

The term "convergence" may be passe these days, but the question of which devices will fold into other devices is still of immense interest to a lot of people. Especially because it's all more than a little bit mysterious. I suspect that's in no small part because the (in many cases) engineers trying to figure all this stuff out are being entirely too rational about it. They tend to ignore style and fashion, which aren't exactly rational after all.

Let's look at a concrete example. Why haven't MP3 players folded into cell phones in a bigger way. After all, cell phones are ubiquitous and you don't need more than a bit more memory and another chip or two to make them do double duty as an MP3 player. Sure, there are some business issues--the carriers subsidize cell phones and aren't going to be exactly thrilled about subsidizing other types of gear that doesn't bring them services revenue. And some practical ones--does everyone want to drain their phone's batteries playing songs?

But we're heading down the rational path. I was informed by a college freshman of some much more fundamental reasons this past weekend: iPods are cool and small cell phones are cool. The mathematical corollary, I suppose, is that big cell phones playing MP3s are decidedly not.

Q.E.D.
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