Ten things mobiles have made, or will make, obsolete – Recombu :: read > compare > buy

November 22, 2009 at 6:14 am (Uncategorized)

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Ten things mobiles have made, or will make, obsolete

By Andrew Lim on Saturday, 21st November 2009

The history of mobile phone technology reads like the plot from Highlander. A variety of standalone devices have been decapitated and absorbed into increasingly complex handsets. To highlight how powerful mobile phones have become, here’s a list of things that the mobile phone has made, or will make, obsolete. As Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez would say, “In the end, there can be only one”.

Phone boxes – Before mobile phones existed these charming, although often smelly, communication booths were very popular. The first classic red phone box was introduced in the 1920s and today phone boxes offer a variety of services including web access. The introduction of mass-market mobile phones though has meant that phone boxes are almost completely pointless.

Wristwatches – Want to know what time it is? Most people have given up on wearing a watch and simply use their mobile phone’s clock. It’s not just about checking the time though. Wearing a cool watch used to be much more of fashion statement or a way for people to show off how affluent they were, but today phones have taken over those roles to a great extent.

Bedside alarm clocks – It’s unlikely that mobile phone manufacturers realised how successful the alarm clock feature would be. Our anecdotal evidence suggests that most of our friends use their mobile phone as their daily alarm clock. One look on Google and you can see how popular iPhone alarm apps are. We think that standalone bedside alarm clocks’ days are over.

MP3 players – There was a time when you’d struggle to fit all your contacts on your mobile’s memory, let alone your music. There was even a time when mobile phones didn’t have 3.5mm headphone jacks but fortunately those days are over. As more and more phones offer everything that standalone MP3 players offer it’s becoming less necessary to own two separate devices.

Landline home phones – The landline telephone was developed in the 19th century but only became a common household object in the 20th century. Similar to phone boxes, mobile phones have meant there’s practically no need to own a home phone. While people tend to need a landline connection for web access, we think the days of landline home phones will come to an end soon.

Compact digital cameras – Early camera phones where painfully bad but strong sales proved that there was a demand for them. Over time phone camera technology has hugely improved and phones such as the Nokia N82, produce pictures worthy of printing. Big DSLRs will always be better than camera phones but the gap between compact cameras and camera phones is getting smaller and smaller.

Netbooks – Nokia once tried to instigate a new term, asking people to refer to some of its handsets as ‘multimedia computers’. At the time it seemed a bit over the top but today that term seems fitting and it’s foreseeable that all our mobile computing needs will be met by phones. There are still good reasons to own a netbook but it won’t take long for mobile phones to catch up.

Handheld games consoles – The iPhone has pushed mobile gaming further than any other mobile manufacturer to date. Certain iPhone games are as good as games on the Nintendo DS or PSP. The main advantage of mobile phones over dedicated gaming devices is their ability to connect to mobile networks, allowing gamers to play multiplayer games wherever they are.

Paper – What do maps, dictionaries and novels have in common? They’re all printed on paper and they can be heavy, expensive and difficult to access. Mobile phones and e-readers offer digital access to traditionally paper-based content. Digital publishing is a way for millions of people to access information without needing to go to a library, and it makes sense that mobile phones will act as great reading devices.

Thinking – OK, we’re exaggerating a bit by saying that mobile phones will make thinking obsolete but they do take out a lot of the hard work. Whether it’s using GPS to figure out where you are or looking something up on your mobile’s web browser, life is definitely a lot easier than it used to be. Until your battery goes flat, of course.

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  • If had been five and left out alarm clocks, netbooks, handheld game consoles, paper, and thinking, I’d agree.

    Alarm clocks won’t go away for the simple fact that they can produce volume levels cell phones only wish they could rival. They are also visible across the room, meaning you know what time it is without having your phone in your PJs.

    Netbooks provide one crucial feature: two-handed typing. I personally have no pressing need for such a small mobile computer, but some people do. Mobile phones are great for typing a few words at a time, but if you need something small that can handle real writing, netbooks are the best solution.

    Handheld game consoles: these devices are too specialized to be replaced by a multifunction mobile phone. Some people think ereaders will be pushed out by mobiles, but the truth is they do their single job far better than a phone. Consoles will always play games better than phones.

    Paper: Computers were supposed to give us the paperless office. Instead, they drastically INCREASED the amount of paper consumed by offices, as it became easy to print everything. Mobiles won’t be responsible for an increase, but I don’t use any less paper now than I did five years ago.

    Thinking: It’s not the phones that will do away with that.

  • Benjamin Fedder Jensen 5 hours ago

    I don’t know anyone that uses alarm clocks, at all. I’m talking 20+ people here. Oh, I’m lying. My parents does. But that’s it.

    Don’t know about fancy phones, but I got a seven year old Nokia that sure as hell wakes me up.

    For me, landline, phoneboots & alarm clocks are all my phone can give me. But I’ll try out that smartphone thing at some point. I like watches though. Mine is broken, and that means I have to grab my phone each time. It’s simply impractical, if you just want a quick glimpse. Especially when carrying things, or in the bus and train. (Almost fell over a couple of times in busses and trains because I had to grab the phone from my pocket – they really hit the brakes here)

  • landstander 1 hour ago

    It’ll be a cold day in hell that I give up my THREE old-fashioned alarms. One is a loud alarm, one is a backup that goes unused except on super-short nights of sleep, and the other is a radio alarm in my bathroom.

    A cell phone waking me up? Yeah right! Not unless it’s vibrating on just the right arrangement of pocket change.

  • Another thing I believe mobile phones will make obsolete is standalone GPS systems. Maybe that’s just me though.

  • Paul Blair 4 hours ago

    I agree. Touchscreen phones with good nav software can already match any stand-alone GPS device.

  • Today’s compact digital cameras offer much higher resolution and (temporary) storage than many cell phones. Netbooks offer a much larger screen and a far far better keyboard than cell phones. My own bedside alarm (clock-radio) awakens me to the dulcet tones of NPR. I really REALLY don’t want to read anything of any size on a cell-phone’s screen. A 19′ (or larger) monitor is OK, though.

  • “today’s compact digital cameras offer much higher resolution and (temporary) storage”

    yeah, not for long. My motorola droid has a 5 megapixel camera, and with the inserted SD card i have, it also stores 48 gigs worth of data. With those specs today, just wait for the next gen of smart phones to come out

    the first hit on best buy’s website for point and shoot cameras was a nikkon, priced at $150… 10 MP, and 200 MB of storage….. much less storage, and you have to deal with wires to upload photos to your computer, and then go through another step yet to upload to websites, ect ect… from my phone, i can post on facebook, send pictures, post videos on youtube, save to my computer over bluetooth, or just leave it on my phone. Convenient.

    that being said, i agree with your statement that netbooks won’t be replaced, biggest reason being the keyboard… allthough, i have used netbooks myself and i hate their keyboards, i find it difficult to type on..

  • So many phones are running linux based OSes like android, and the Pre and Pixi also run linux. I am not fond of ChromeOS, they really mutilated the linux kernel, however, it will definately do a lot of good for linux.

  • jeremiahn 4 hours ago

    Phone Boxes – Don’t think so if there is no cell coverage and there is one of these; guess what that 200g cell phone is a 200g paper weight.

    Alarm Clocks; agree with FTBC’s comments regarding this issue

    Home Phone; well replacing the hard line is great, again if you have cell coverage; since there is NOT coverage everywhere people are with a land line sorry cell phone you lose

    Paper; yeah with REAL jobs that require sets of blueprints, installation manuals, Gas and/or Building Codes, and building permits sorry cell phone you lose…again.

    Who writes this crap!? Apparently someone who only a) Lives in a large metropolis area b) never comes across documents larger than 81/2 X 11 paper c) has oodles of free time to play games, listens to music, and takes photos with their friends….

    are you my teenage nephew in high school!?

  • Fernando 4 hours ago

    “Most people” here apparently means a social group of twenty-somethings. It certainly doesn’t include any of my peers, people who watched the first moon walk live. I use a wristwatch because I can’t be bothered to dig something out of my pocket when all I want is the time. I use a standalone alarm clock because it has large numbers that glow all night and I can read it in the dark without my glasses. I have landline phones because I don’t live in a city and the cell reception inside my home is poor. The camera in my phone has no optical zoom and performs poorly in low light. And I read books on paper because I won’t submit to the DRM of ebooks.

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