The Idea Dude


Friday, June 08, 2007

The convergence is coming, chicken little said...

The iPhone is launch is imminent, slated for 29 June this month. It will no doubt be successful although it is not clear whether it could be at the scale that the iPod was. Our love affair with small cool gadgets that do everything goes way back, from the Apple Newton, the Palm Pilot, the Windows CE, PDAs, PDA/phones, blackberries and now the iPhone. Yes, the convergence of phone, camera, internet has been here for quite sometime but it remains pretty much a niche rather than mainstream. Perhaps it's cost, without the business market, the blackberry would have been an orbituary long ago. However, if you ever travelled abroad, especially to Far East and Japan, the adoption of high tech phones is a different story. In particular, a lot has to do with culture and our way of life.

In North America, most households have multimedia computers with large screen displays and high speed internet. There is also liberal policy at most workplaces that allow employees to surf on company time or have access to high-speed networks. To be without the Internet on a daily basis is usually during a commute or a meeting but you can generally assume that you will be connected at least several times a day. Your phone as a data appliance (not voice) is a convenience, not a must have.

Flip to Japan, where in most workplaces, you sit rubbing shoulders with colleagues on either side of you and surfing during office hours is a no-no and probably would grounds for dismissal. External to work hours, most people are socializing as opposed to going home because their apartments are extremely tiny, very little entertainment is done at home. Not to mention commute times that could run to 2 or mores each way. So the average person in Japan, if it were not for their phone would have no access to the Internet at all. The phone is an integral part of their lifestyle, a mandatory item not an optional one.

Ergo, it is not the lack of convergence that is holding back adoption of smartphones in US/Canada, it is probably a combination of cost and culture. As a former user of the Blackberry and mobile professional, it wasn't difficult to wean myself off the "crackberry" as we fondly called it. Yes, it can be inconvenient at times not to have data access when you want it. But I never felt like it was justified to shell out a couple hundred dollars and then the pay a month fee for benefits that weren't really that compelling. At the end of the day, if you really were objective, there are very few things in life that require your immediate and urgent attention, when that happens, please call.


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