Everyone is going gagga over AudioVox’s SMT5600 smartphone. It’s one of those devices that geeks oogle over because of the wizbang features, that practically speaking, nobody will use after the first week.
Now, it has a nice feature list: Outlook, mini-SD, Windows Media Player, BlueTooth, and runs .NET programs. There is a killer feature it is missing: WiFi.
Now, I paid $200 for my Sony Ericsson T637. That is $200, so I can drop phone calls all of the time. It is a nice phone though, and if I could have one killer feature, it’d be connectivity. But it has cool stuff like ICQ, and a browser, and contact sync. I can pay either per message or pay some fee of $10/month for a set number of messages, plus some amount of Internet bandwidth (maybe 1 meg a month).
Geeks love this stuff. I say dump it. Give me a phone with WiFi and lose the features.
With WiFi, I can do ICQ for free, and do as much Internet as I want. Outlook sync? No problem! These days, I get free WiFi access at home, at my job, at bookstores, restaurants, coffee shops, and even in entire cities.
Instead, I can pay $5 to rent a phone ringer for 3 months. If you were a consumer (and let’s face it, it’s hard not to be), what feature would you rather have (more importantly, pay to have)?
Instead, we get Media Player and SD so I can, get this, play video on my phone! I’ve so wanted to watch Star Wars on my 1.5″ screen!
I don’t understand the video feature. But I might want to connect to my online photo album with my phone. That makes perfect sense. But I can’t.
It makes perfect sense for my phone to automatically sync with my Outlook periodically, but again, I can’t.
It can play MP3′s, which is actually kind of nice. But since I can store my entire CD collection on my iPod, it’s going to be a hard sell. For now…
Now, if they had WiFi, I could easily pull a playlist off my iPod. But they don’t. Wait!
Imagine a world where your iPod had WiFi. Now I could purchase songs right from my iPod! I could stream Internet music, and buy songs I like as I listen to them. I could time-shift talk-radio, a la TiVo style. I could broadcast my own playlists, and others could purchase through me. Stop me if the possibilities are endless.
Instead, we have the Portable Media Center. Everyone thinks that the way to up the audio-only iPod is to add video. Bzzt! Wrong! Who is going to use this? Where is it going to be used? Maybe the airplane. Maybe give to the kids on the ride to school. But I’m not going to wait 10 minutes to hook up my device to the network so I can transfer a video to give to the kids for a 15 minute ride to the grocery store. Nevermind that I need a Media Center PC to bootstrap this workflow. I might, however, grab my portable DVD player, a DVD off my shelf, and walk out the door.
Perhaps, this unlikely ecosystem might eventually take shape. But this is swinging at the ball before it’s been pitched. And no, it doesn’t have WiFi.
Now, there will be some convergence, and we’ll eventually get these phones that do these things well, at a price I like. WiFi is the ticket to the apps I want. I don’t want my phone to be a PDA with 10,000 buttons. I just want it to be connected. Until then, I’m still trying to get my phone to stop dropping calls.