No this is not a pun on Apple, it has been an idea I’ve had for quite some time and actually one of the first articles I wanted to write about when this blog began. There are so many limitations of where mobile is today. I’m not going to discount all the incredible work that has been done with Smartphones, they certainly have become the lifeblood of how many people function on a daily basis. But Smartphones evolved from tradition cell phones, which evolved from home phones. We’ve chosen form factors that feel like something we have known for decades. Sure the Candy Bar Style of phone doesn’t exactly look like your phone that you had at home as a child but the evolutionary path of Smartphones of today basically merged PDAs and Cell Phones when Handspring stuck a VisorPhone Module on top of a PalmPilot. Not much has really evolved from an external design point beyond that, just more polished (sorry Apple).
However, in the last year or so, things outside of the SmartPhone have evolved. People are using Tablets and needing ‘always on’ access to Notebooks. Though there is more WiFi than ever before, its never there when you really need it so we move to our SmartPhones at that point. A small few use their phones to “Tether” and some have bought MiFi devices. New laws have also come into play where you are required to use hands-free devices while driving.
So Where Am I Going With This?
I think we are at a time or very close to a time to reverse what we call the “mobile phone”. The cell antenna, Bluetooth, RFID and WiFi should all be driven by the Bluetooth headset and be your communication hub. I know this sounds radical to some and some people think that I have lost it but I’ll explain why we should be on the cusp of major mobile change.
- The components have gotten small enough to do this. We could not have done this 10 years ago.
- This frees our mobile cellular connection from the screen. The carriers will hate this but you finally will be able to have one device drive all of your voice/data and share it among all of your devices.
- The only time that you will need a cellular upgrade would be for new, faster speeds and major communication spec changes.
- One day you can carry an iPod Touch, the next day an Android Tablet, the weekend just you Bluetooth Headset. It frees you from being locked into the need of a one size fits all device environment. SIM Cards were suppose to allow us to do this but never really fulfilled the promise. And CDMA never had an option.
- This also means any PDA device can work on any carrier so iPod Touches could be used on Verizon and so on.
- Few people will carry multiple devices today but the iPad, Kindle and netbooks have entered enough mainstream to begin changing that. I’ve lived the days of a bunch of devices on my toolbelt, this could eliminate that.
- Don’t think of today’s Bluetooth headsets being the same as the ones I’m talking about tomorrow. Voice technology is vastly improving and many things could be cloud-driven and collected without the need of a screen or full mobile OS. Carriers could be tracking location while apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude could make use of the Carrier’s API to that data. Alerting triggers can be filtered in the cloud. This would significantly reduce the overhead of multiple apps collecting the same thing which heavily drains battery.
- Think of form-factors of devices sensor-driven such as the FitBit that can also track all of your Activity and Sleep Patterns
- RFID Tags sensors in your cars, in stores and even in rooms of your house that can create very low powered scenarios in a small radius that can do adaptive things such adjust lights and temperature based on presence too small for things such as GPS to recognize. Check-ins can occur once you enter a door.
- The headset will always be with you, something that we are suppose to have with us in the car but usually don’t
- Do you really need a full screen at all times? Really? Didn’t you think the same about a physical keyboard?
- Decoupling Communication could technically move screens to glasses
- It allows for new ways to evolve mobile. This big Candy Bar is holding us back in ways we don’t even know yet. Size does matter!
We’re still clearly at the beginning of this evolution and we may still be years away but it takes bold leaps of change to avoid ending up in the same place as what has come before. If you had this smaller device, your ‘new normal’ may no longer be a pocketable device, maybe it will but it allows for new growth of many form factors and choice. We need to release the ‘death grip”.