A few years ago, I was a full detractor of the idea that electronics convergence was a good thing. The idea that a cell phone could be my ipod, daytimer, gaming device, etc. was simply not there…yet.

It seems to be getting there.

I’ve been using a blackberry pearl for the last 2 years. It sucked as a convergence device. I didn’t us it for music. The phone was good for little more than fuzzy quick photos. The surfing experience was the shits. It recently got stolen and I’m now looking at iPhone, Android Phone, or the new Windows 7. All seem to be “getting there”.

I know many of you have been there for a while and I was wondering about what your feelings are on this now. Do you use your iPhone for your MP3 player? Do you use it as your primary camera? What other electronic devices do yous still carry with you in addition to your convergence device? Have you ditched 'em all and you stick with just your iPhone or Android?

Inquiring minds want to know.

For personal use, I have a smart phone and a camera, although I use the camera feature on the smart phone. But the measure of a camera is based on the lens - physics trumps technology.

The smart phone handles my communications (audio & text, I’m too ugly for video), music (especially the WiFi in the car), personal data (price comparisons while in store) and soon, home entertainment needs (smart phone acts as a remote to home server that stores music/videos/stills/etc. and can direct that data to the output device of my choice).

For business, I am still tethered to software that will only run on a computer. I suppose that is just as well because it makes it easier to separate personal time and professional time. Mondai blurred that line and for me, time is too precious to waste on work.

I hate touchscreen typing. My fingertips are always pretty dry and calloused from playing stringed instruments and I find touch capacitance doesn’t work well for me. I still use a clamshell with physical buttons as a result. I’m not a big fan of being wired all the time either, so that aspect of phone based devices is also a major turnoff for me. On the functional side, I still think we’re in the era of devices that do fifteen things okayishly while excelling at nothing in particular.

I have to admit, I have found my iPhone even more useful than I ever thought it would be. Just two weeks ago I took a little vacation trip to California and while packing my stuff I thought:

“I should bring my digital camera - oh wait, my iPhone actually takes decent shots… so nevermind on that…”
“I need something to read - well now wait, I have a few iBooks on my iPhone… so I guess thats covered”
“I should bring some other entertainment for the flight… oh yeah, my iPhone has movies, music, and games already loaded.”

It literally stunned me that I got so much mileage out of that stupid phone… and I love it! These features aren’t excusive to the iPhone by any means, but it’s the version of the smart phone that I happen to own and I honestly wont ever go back…


I am with you. I was always against all-in-one technology. Maybe it was a reaction to the stereo systems in the 80’s where one component would break and you would be out of luck.

I have a Motorola Droid 2 Global now and I do find all-in-one has come a long way. I still prefer a separate camera and an iPod for music, but am about to shelve my GPS and use Google navigation on my phone (as long as I can still use hands free phone at the same time of course).

I find myself never using my point and shoot anymore. I will still use my SLR when I want to take actual pictures, but if I go out I’ll either let my girlfriend take her point and shoot or just bring the iphone. It’s plenty capable of taking some rather nice shots (which I’ll admit her Droid 2 sucks at), plays my music, answers my email and does just about everything else I need it to.

The only time I’ll even bother with a laptop when I travel is when I know I’ll need to be typing a lot of emails and then I’ll take my netbook. My full fledged laptop spends 99% of it’s time in a drawer.

it’s all iphone for me + a pocket cam for special occassions (want the S95)

It’s phone, email, music, camera for most shots and kindle all in one.

I don’t have a cel. I’m constantly tempted by the iPod touch though.

I suppose i use it as a GPS, camera, ipod, and even laptop replacement for email/browsing. I don’t think of it as a replacement though. I tend to mostly use it in situations where I wouldn’t carry the dedicated device anyway. There are some areas on the margin where it has replaced items - like not carrying an ipod on business trips, but I don’t think I’ve got to the point where I can get rid of them entirely.

Convergence sucks if done poorly, but when done well it’s a blessing. iPhone handles pretty much everything I need. Phone, nav, music, notes, calendar, web, email, camera snaps, books, movies, and it’s only getting better with more apps and more web content.

It’s one of the reasons I got an iPad when it launched. Travel is where it really shines. I don’t need to bring another laptop, portfolio, a camera, travel books and guides, etc. I don’t think I’ve even used my laptop in about 1.5 years…

Can’t wait for a reason to get a newer iPhone (I’m with a 3GS now) that has an even better camera, which would make it even more useful.


The camera on the 4 is pretty great for most quick shots. Stopped brining my camera around.

Without getting into the typical fanboy vs hater type arguments, are these smartphone/tablet devices really ‘convergence’, or have people’s standards for acceptability been eroded by convenience and the constant promise of new apps?

  1. Devices take photos, but when the quality approaches that of a simple point-and-shoot digital, we are amazed.
  2. The devices store and play music, but in a compressed state that can’t rival CD quality.
  3. Books and reading media are supported, but aren’t anywhere as good as a book, or a Kindle for that matter.
  4. Phone support sometimes seems to be a lower priority. Remember when calls wouldn’t drop and you could finish a conversation without static or saying “what???”
  5. Contacts, addresses, phone numbers, and notes are subject to someone else’s idea of organization.
  6. Writing a letter (or an email) subjects you to similar conventions, with abbreviations and emoticons that would have no place in normal written language.

I have an original EDGE iPhone and like it just OK. Its no substitute for dedicated devices. One effect that smartphones have had is a flattening-out of standards, where distinguishing oneself is a matter of buying a new .99 cent App that might manipulate your photos.

Maps, GPS, and wayfinding have been a quantum leap however, as most people never carried GPS devices with them prior to a couple years ago.

I don’t know what your expectations are or experiences, but personally, I don’t think my own experience or standards are low. I’m not saying it’s all perfect, and there are certainly some things I wish were a bit different, but overall, I am more than happy and can hardly imagine going back to how things were. My iPhone was in the shop for a few days earlier this summer, and I felt completely lost, to be honest.

  1. Photo quality is find for most of what I would want a camera on my person for. 75% of the pics I take are just things I see that I want to remember - some neat detail on a product in a shop, a poster in a window, the parking level sign in the garage…
  2. Music sounds great to me. Majority of what I listen to anyhow is podcasts.
  3. Book reading is great. The best book to read is the one you have on you at the time. Small screen isn’t the best experience, but that’s what the iPad is for. I’m really only reading while waiting around for something else.
  4. My Phone works fine. As an aside however, I actually do find skype calling even better quality. Calling for free, via skype on wifi from an outdoor cafe in Iceland to my parents in Canada while sounding like they were next door… THAT’s technology for you!
  5. Contacts work fine for me. I can’t imagine any other sort of organization.
  6. I write in normal English. I’m actually faster typing on the iPhone with Autocorrect than on the larger iPad as a matter of fact (though not as good as touch typing on a real keyboard).

Just my 0.02$ worth.


I would never suggest that you (or other contributors) had low standards - quite the opposite. And I do sympathize with the lost/broken iPhone “lost” feeling, as we come to depend quite highly on these little devices. However, the sense of what I’m trying to say is even embedded in your posting:

If smartphone devices are really convergence, we wouldn’t have to give up anything, or “make do” with lower quality experiences.

Detour: I once worked on a design project for a very high-end loudspeaker company. Absolute perfection was a quantity they tried to measure and achieve (ever see an audiophile publication called “The Absolute Sound”?) Perfection, at the time, came from big wattage, an expensive phonograph, and two-channel output. This was over ten years ago, and I would imagine that little has changed. This company was so reluctant to even get into the heresy of 5-channel surround sound that they let the market and people’s tastes pass them by. Earbuds or flat-panel speakers didn’t even rate on their concept of audio playback.

Its an extreme example, but I’m trying to describe how mass acceptance of a convenient alternative can change people’s relative standards of ‘good’. To be precise: what we now experience by the grace of Jobs is not convergence, but new forms of interacting, sharing, listening, reading, etc. that did not exist concurrently before the introduction of these devices. These new forms enable new kinds of behavior, in some ways good and others, well, antisocial. The older forms of content creation and consumption still exist, but in a marginalized manner.

Yes you can. You’re a designer. :smiley:

I have given up things. I gave up using a laptop for personal communications. I gave up a land line. I gave up an mp3 player. I gave up crappy radio in my car. I gave up traveling from store to store to find the best price. I gave up AAA triptiks (I’m dating myself here). I gave up tickets from the city of Chicago for not using hands-free. I gave up a camera for not-special occasions. Soon, I am going to give up remotes for the TV and stereo at home.

I gave up a lot. I am very happy about it.

I have a feeling this statement is going to strike a chord with many. Like your story with the speaker design. I have a similar one working in the wireless industry. The company I worked for made wireless modems. They had a very high engineering standard. They were/are an engineering centric company that believed that high throughput on the data, perfect reception in the worst of conditions, and a perfect antenna with flawless tuning was paramount to their success. And, in the early days, I would agree that this was a huge part of their success.

Then, something happened. People realized that they could still talk on their phone with 2 bars of reception. They were still able to get their email even if their bandwidth was a touch slower than it “should” be. A shift happened towards “good enough”.

I believe we’re in the convergence “good enough” phase. Those with exacting standards for all the different devices won’t be happy for several more years. But the devices have become “good enough” for what most people need them for most of the time.

Yup. Good enough.

But when several more years arrives and technologies improve and evolve, will not the exacting standards have changed as well? I think we will always be in a “good enough” phase.

Good point. 10 years ago, I’d have given my right lung to get an iPhone (and everything it does in one device). But now, I’m on the fence. I expect more, because more is available. I’m certain I always will.

I think it is a transitional period. At some point the capabilities in PAN (phone, tablet) and your WAN provider (cloud based processing and data storage) might become so complete that the LAN based devices (Laptop, Desktop) go away completely. You might not need a computer, because the phone and your cloud have that capability you’ll just need a connected monitor and keyboard.

On audio quality, I’m not sure how much it will matter. If music goes mainly on demand streaming and connection speeds go up I would think quality could return to higher levels? I wonder how mp3s compare to cassette tapes. Cassettes had far inferior quality to records that preceded them but superior portability and shareability.

On cameras, I think it is only a matter of a generation or two before phone cameras are just as good as point and shoots. They are already better than early digital cameras.

I know I’m traveling with far less stuff and I anticipate that happening even more. That is why I can’t get on the Kindle thing, though I know some of you are loving them.

Well, I’ve been reading on a Kindle now for several months and I love it. Minus the fact that I can’t get every book I want (The Harry Potter books to be specific) I am a total convert.

Now, it will be interesting to see where I sit over the next few months. I ordered my iPhone 4 yesterday and it should arrive within the next week or so. I will be trying the Kindle app on it to test the difference of reading on a backlit screen compared to the eInk. I can’t imagine I will like it better…but…I’m making the jump to convergence…so I suppose I will know soon enough if it will be “good enough”.