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Mobile phones go scalp hunting: The Red List

Mobile phones go scalp hunting: The Red List - read the full textLast week we walked with dinosaurs. We followed phones in their search of the perfect size and shape. We’ll now take another step away from our usual routine and look back at the gadgets that lost or are about to lose in the survival of the fittest. Mobile phones are no longer a commodity – but a necessity...


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Great arrticle and great comments - kudos to all !

A few random thoughts that I would like to add.

1) who killed the mobile phone ? Today's (mid to high end) mobiles hardly resemble the original mobile phones. It could be argued that other devices have killed the mobile phone rather than the other way. I use a Palm Treo phone - to me, it is more like my mobile phone has been integrated into my palm organiser than the other way. The phone function has been nicely integrated. The best selling mobile device today is the iPhone. It can be argued that it is really the phone function integrated into a great mp3 player. Indeed, today, people talk of the phone / voice function like just one of many function such as data, music, imaging etc. Perhaps the best way to view this is which companies rule - Apple, Blackberry, HP/Palm are non-phone companies to begin with, while Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, HTC, Samsung etc can be considered as phone companies. Since low-end mobile phones will not replace anything (except pager, phone booth & some part of lsndline), only market share of high-end phones matter, and I believe the traditional phone companies like Nokia etc are losing out in this space.

2) i think the wrist phone will become a serious, if not dominant, form factor once the design & ergonomics get better. since phone is such a critical requirement, what better way to bring it then wear it on the wrist, combined with a bluetooth headset. What that would also mean is the unbundling of voice from the integrated device. Today, everyone is carrying what is becoming a bigger and heavier device everywhere but people are doing it purely because phone is needed everywhere and form factor of phone alone versus multiple functions don't differ significantly. Just think, before the mobile phone era, how many would carry their compact camera (which were not digital but neveretheless of same size as current compact camera or mobile phone) in their pocket everywhere ? people would consider that crazy but today we are effectively doing that purely because of the indespensable nature of phone. Once phone gets unbundled onto the wrist (and obviously it has to be small so min other functions can get on the wrist), the balance of the device will be carried almost every everywhere but not everywhere. It will be kept in a bag but people will carry it in their pocket only sometimes. It will be used for pda, internet, music and camera etc, but not for phone. And it can't be considered a mobile phone.

3) Kids will not be allowed high end phones so all things (eg mp3 player, calculator) will continue to exist for them.

4) With the exception of pager and public phones (to some extent) and PDAs (more on that later), I don't see the rest of the items going extinct, just that they will be used less frequently. Alarm clocks are cheap and big and easy to use especially at night. Even during day, it is easier to just glance at a clock. I will use my mobile phone as alarm when i am out of town (alarm clocks in hotel rooms are too complicated) and during course of business day, but not otherwise. Even if phones don't get embedded into wrist watch (my comments above), wrist watch are just to convenient - just one glance (but i put them at a very high risk since looking into mobile phone for time is not too inconvenient and many days i don't bother to wear my wristwatch). I don't own a calculator because on a large touch screen phone (like my treo but also many others), it is very easy to use the calculator function. But on a normal phone, i can imagine it to be quite difficult. Landlines will continue to exist at companies / shops (more to give comfort to customers that this is not a fly by night company more than anything else) and at homes as they deliver ADSL broadband whose speed continues to evolve & will always be superior to mobile broadband by a factor of 2-3. But you may be right in that we may not use the connectivity much for traditional circuit-switched phone calling (though phone calling through VOIP and Skype etc running on broadband provided by the same connectivity may grow - though not by much as these same applications can also run effectively on mobile broadband). But heavy-duty high end video calling (perhaps the size of the wall in the room) will need the ADSL connection. Also, article has got it wrong in saying that in developing world, landline will continue to exist for longer. In fact in developing countries like India, China & Indonesia, mobile phones have far outstripped landlines and calling rates on mobiles are much cheaper than landline. MP3 players - surprisingly the lower end ones (shuffle etc) will stay because they are tiny & easy to use while doing sports or in a crowded subway, but the higher end ones whose form factor resemble mobile phones will go. Compact cameras are a high risk category but not for next 3-5 years - phones will need to make a long stride in terms of quality and functionality (flash, video recording, fast saving & getting ready for next shot etc - optical zoom will not be critical ie people will not carry a separate camera just for optical zoom benefit if quality & above functionality can be achieved). of course, higher-end cameras will not be replaced by mobile phones and in fact currently seem to be enjoying a mini-boom as photography as a hobby seems to be taking of. Public phones will become almost extinct but will remain for e.g. at airports where travellers can make calls till they buy a local sim card as roaming is still too expensive - even this may not be needed if roaming charges come down drastically. Public phones going is a double-edge sword - if your phone battery goes down, you have no way to keep in touch. hence i think people will start carrying a second small basic phone as well (or spare battery). That brings me to the PDA. The PDA, like the pager, is effectively extinct - i don't think it is possible to buy a standalone PDA. But as already highlighted by others earlier, the PDA functions in smartphones are surprisingly very rudimentary. The Palm Treo is the last of the good PDA phone available, but even this has stopped production. So I am holding on to my 4 year old Treo as long as I can, and am quite concerned on what to do next once my Treo dies.

5) Sometimes, one gets tired of watching the same screen all the time and so look to a different screen e.g. one could watch movies on a large screen smartphone or even play games, but one gets tired of watching the same screen all the time that they go to another screen. And hence dedicated device continue to exist.

6) Also, one needs to multitask a lot these days so while the mobile device can technically do everything, it is not practical to take calls and watch videos and listen to music and surf the net simultaneously on one device - hence the need for multiple device again

7) The things that have actually gone extinct are only pagers, portable fm radio and PDAs (unfortunately). The things that could seriously go extinct in mainstream (excluding for kids) are lowerend torchlights, higher end mp3 players, calculators, compact cameras (over a 3-5 year period), printed media like newspapers, magazines and books (over a 10-15 year period)

  • Reply
  • 2010-10-20 23:47
  • tUsF

- Many chinese phones equipped with analog TV receiver, and they cost only $60 or so.
- Did someone forgot to mention FM radio?
- USB GSM internet modem
- Voice recorder

  • Reply
  • 2010-09-16 23:12
  • KhsF

Great article, it makes me think.
-> Landlines remain, so fixed line telephones remain too.
-> Have yet to see a mobile phone that is also a capable organizer.
-> Sat Navs are enhanced, not extincted - so who's the winner? Furthermore where Sat Navs are really usefull, mobile phones are poor.
-> Mp3 players are dead for the casual users. I can't listen to music for more than 4-5 hours so when i'm done there's plenty of battery left for the phone. I'm casual user.
-> Calculators, Alarm clocks and wristwatches are way too practical to be extincted.
-> Digital cameras are in a different level of quality compared to the phone cameras.
I believe that only casual users can replace certain items with a mobile phone's functions. Those who DO need a fuction won't be satisfied with their mobile. That leaves me wondering... What are my real needs? Are they covered by my phone's mediocre (compared to a specialized item's) functions? Cause if not, there is no progress at adding fuctions...

  • Reply
  • 2010-09-05 14:47
  • 3A4s

great review, I must say!!! However, some points that are not shown here... Like the battery. The more functionalities the cellphone has, the sooner you have to use the charger.. Now, I have 2 phones, one with very much functions: camera, office, GPS... and I have to charge it every 2 days. And the second one is the very nomal one: "call-and-text" one :D and I can use it for nearly 4 days to the next charging. The battery , it seems, is still something that manufacturers should take care of.
The last thing is camera is now available on the phone. yes. However, I still trust my PnS camera more. Better quality, for sure it is.

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-24 10:17
  • RLmR

Great article guys!...what about the desktop computer?, they are certainly being threatened by the mobile phone. There are smartphones with better processors than some computers had a few years ago and the portability factor is a plus. There are a lot of reasons not to go to your desktop these days. Of course I don't believe there will be a total takeover though!

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-11 14:45
  • 4fLI

Thanks GSM arena, for a very nice article, the first I feel compelled to comment on. A good start for a transformation of the site to more than just a list of reviews, and a well chosen topic.

I'd add a few thoughts on mobiles replacing landlines, P&S cameras and MP3 players.

Landlines: When I moved house I didn't ask for a fixed-line phone and know no one who did lately. No one would ever call me there, while I use skype for international calls (internet through cable). No one ever calls my phone in office and I never use it. My prediction is fixed-line phones will disappear from homes. In absence of skype the landlines might last longer for reason of cheaper international rates. Perhaps we should blame Skype for killing landlines before they pressured mobile communication providers into lower rates for international calls.

P&S cameras: I'm a photo quality freak, yet most of my recent photo successes came through pixon 12. I own a good SLR and a good DSLR, each being used regularly. But they don't join me in every moment of every day. I did contemplate a decent P&S for opportunity snapshots, but I have only two pockets in my jeans or jacket - one gets the phone and the other the wallet or the keys. I say p&s is in decline, with a yet another hit for the pic quality of an average shooter.

MP3 player: the ipod nano is much more useful as a music player, lighter and of almost negligible dimension, compared to my phone. I struggled for one year to play music with my latest generation high end phone, but nothing beats my brand new ipod's functionality whether I jog or plug it into my stereo. Have you never realized MP3 players are used to play music at parties or when home alone? Try receiving a call while your phone is plugged to a stereo!

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-11 01:04
  • 0MBp

Well.. this must have been the only article on GSMArena for which I read literally all the comments posted till yet bcoz for the first time, they were ALL INTERESTING.

For the 1st time, I've felt comments r genuine, informative, relate to the news and posted by the ppl of a class - and not like those 1st & 2nd.

Abt the article, like all others, I liked it too! I like going into history & getting nostalgic abt all those things we did & used! It was an amazing experience.. thnx!

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-10 10:41
  • 2@e$

Nice article.

But I'll never part with my Tag Heuer, and never listend to music on my phone :P
I had a pager, loved it and an Ipaq to link to my 6310i and surf. Great to have, but then used communicators from Nokia.

But I think camera's, alarm clock's and came consoles? No, not yet.

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-08 21:21
  • SgJa

some more:
- maps, yea the ones printed on parer, and difficult to fold up
- the net books - they have pretty much the same resolution as the latest high end devices.
- small flash lights - which device has LED flash supports the function of it, so it is useless to wear a small flashlight with you.
- magazines - it is complex as the online magazines are also a factor, but as soon as they started shifting to news sites for mobile phones - here you go, why buying it, when you can read it on your hand held device while you are in the metro (or the toilet).

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-04 12:19
  • 9xJf

Well, the only one i didn't give up now is the calculator, bur every financial needs one :)
All the rest are here in my new C5.

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-04 07:14
  • 0mZy

Hmm, not sure about GPS: the ones for outdoor use are waterproof and ruggedised, something which very few mobile phones are.

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  • 2010-08-02 18:32
  • Stv4

> In reply to Tsarli @ 2010-07-29 14:58 from w0QN - click to readI agree with Tsarli about pixel density. In fact I wonder how even the compact cameras push up megapixels on megapixels. This only lowers image quality after certain number. BUT, some mobile phones are more than adequate for undemanding people who do not have the spare money to buy dedicated camera.
MP3 players also are not out of the game because they offer much better audio quality (do not ever believe if a review raves about audio quality of a mobile phone - it's all marketing trick and certainly has been paid to say so) + modern MP3 players can play FLAC, APE, PCM and WAV - you get the same uncompressed quality of a portable CD player from their best days. (The contemporary models are much worse due to their low prices) So how's that?

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-01 23:04
  • S2C1

Nice one, Also add digital diaries :)

  • Reply
  • 2010-08-01 13:38
  • p7Aa

first sms = "Merry Christmas"

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-30 12:18
  • M3s@

I agree with most of what was written in this entertaining article. Pagers, fixed landlines, PDAs and to a limited extent, calculators, have definitely been hard hit or have gone the way of the dodo because of mobile phones.

But WRISTWATCHES? I doubt that. Aside from being a fashion implement, wristwatches are also tools (hence the term, "tool watch"). Can you imagine a Navy Seal, SAS trooper or fighter pilot whipping out his mobile phone just to check time in the heat of battle? Synchronize your mobile phones? I don't think so. A dedicated instrument to tell time will always be needed by those whose livelihoods or careers depend on timekeeping.

DIGITAL CAMERAS? Never. Not unless Nokia or Sony Ericsson comes up with a way to rewrite the laws of physics. Small sensors = subpar images. Amusing how these mobile phone manufacturers are still playing the megapixel race. PIXEL DENSITY is the name of the game in digital imaging for serious photographers. The higher it is, the poorer your image quality. One reason why most of the major digital camera review sites, like dpreview give scant coverage to mobile phone cameras.

Just because a mobile phone has a function doesn't necessarily mean it will replace a dedicated device whose function it wishes to duplicate. Example: a lot of mobile phones have flashlights but I don't see them being a threat to the Surefire or Fenix flashlight companies.

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-29 14:58
  • w0QN

Great article guys..I'm old enough to appreciate this one..having also owned a pager myself and love everything retro. And as somene pointed out I would love to know what the future would hold for the mobile phone itself.. will they EVER become extinct?!

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-29 10:56
  • M3s@

On pagers:- I wish the hospital I'm working at stops using pagers and gives all of the doctors cellphones or something. Having previously interned at a hospital in Tokyo and their PHS-based cellphone/pager communicators, I can say that pagers are a waste of time/money. Because after you get the page, you have to find an available phone to return the page (which can be hard if you are on the shuttle between outpatient clinics). Text messaging (we have text paging but it is rarely used) and the ability to instantly get back to whoever paged is a MUST.

On Cameras:- Why can't they just make a phone with proper optical zoom, xenon flash and a decent sensor?

On Watches:- I need a watch for work purposes (more precisely, I need a second hand on the watch). Although we could use a stopwatch function on the phone to figure out a patient's pulse rate, it just doesn't look professional.

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-29 06:57
  • w7mW

Very good article GSM ARENA !

A few things i would like to say,

1. I love my alarm clock with big digits, i prefer using it to wake me up rather than my mobile phone alarm.

2. I also prefer using my big button Casio calculator for its big buttons which makes it much easier to use than any mobile phone.

3. I love wearing my watches, my mobile could never replace my Casio and Timex watches i have. It is far more convenient to tell the time with your watch rather than hunting for your phone in your pocket.

Also i have a Lorus Lumibrite watch which glows during the night and you can easily tell the time with that too rather than feeling around the floor for your mobile phone.

Keep up the very good work you do GSM ARENA.

Fantastic A+ website !

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-28 16:43
  • pJWS

Good that after a long time we have some articles (editorials??) come up on the site. There should be more efforts on these lines. Kudos for waking up (at least for now).
Made an interesting read though I agree that it lacks a bit in zest and reveals average penmanship. And the topic itself is somewhat outdated as there have been millions (ok, thousands maybe) of such articles all over the internet. But it's a start in the right direction, eh??

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-28 13:05
  • t}aQ

well said...but i wud like to add something phones specially the high end ones are also rivaling PC market for basic computing i use to check mails, surf the net, do my basic documents editing and presentation making, notes taking, even watching movies on 4.3 inch touch hd2, syncing, social networking.......its like my laptop gona be obselete for basic computing things!

  • Reply
  • 2010-07-27 22:08
  • uWJ2

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