Ah calculators… the unicellular organisms of technology. Considered by some as the main driving force behind the computer evolution, those never managed to get past the 2-line monochrome display or learn any new tricks.
Once the calculators become small and energy-efficient enough in the 1970s, they called it a day. Little to none has been done about adding new functionality or anything (unless you count those cheap wristwatch calculators).
That’s why their fate was sealed as far back as 2004, when Nokia 6630 added the square root to the usual set of simple functions. Come on now, hardened accountants are more than likely to still have a calculator on their desk but human users say No, thanks.
Smartphones have a host of mathematical functions on their calculator apps and they have CPUs 100 times faster than a regular calculator. And if the preinstalled one doesn’t do the job, well, there’s another app for that.
Notice that we didn’t even mention some more cool features that mobile phones have, such as switching between regular and scientific mode with a flick of the hand thanks to the accelerometer. No argument here, doing your math homework will never be the same again.
Alarm clocks have been around for ages. The first of them date back to ancient Greece, when time keeping was a luxury. But having made the trip from sundials to clock towers to the small radio-enabled devices on our night shelves safely, they find themselves in real trouble now.
Really, is there anything an alarm clock can do that a cell phone can’t do just as well, if not better? Well, okay to be honest there are quite a few of those, but none is really relevant to most users.
Now let’s look at what cell phones give you – a choice between all the available tunes in the world is the first thing that springs to mind. Turn-to-snooze is a close second, as it works better than any snooze button on a dedicated alarm clock, no matter how big it is. Finally, you get to set up as many alarms as you want and you can also assign each a short description so you won’t wonder what’s going on when it sets off.
Oh, if your phone is switched off it will still wake up to set off the alarm. We’d call that a clean victory.
But no, this is not to say that alarm clocks will shortly disappear. They are practically going for pennies and they aren’t so much of a nuisance that people will want to get rid of them. So they will live on, even if driven more by nostalgia and the power of habit than any technological superiority.
There are two sides to the story of wristwatches and mobile phones. A cell phone is a device that’s always on you and can tell the time with reasonable accuracy, making it pointless to carry another similar device.
Indeed little kids are now learning to tell time by looking at a mobile phone, rather than a Barbie/Superman (scratch the wrong one) watch, attached to their wrist.
On the other hand, a wristwatch is a fashion accessory, a perfect complement to your wardrobe and there’s very few mobile phones that can do the job. Though there are some that try.
Low-end watches, which are mostly bought for their time-telling functionality, are now facing a tough challenge. If they won’t make you look any cooler, you better save the money (however little it may be) and simply buy a slightly better phone.
High-end watches however were never meant to be anything but a symbol – it’s the status, not the timekeeping. Their sales didn’t suffer one bit because of mobile phones.
So, mobile phones won’t be calling time on the watch industry. And it certainly won’t be wrist watch phones that will challenge the status quo. Luxury watch-makers will produce an occasional limited-edition hand-crafted marvel of a phone. So it goes. Forever.