Feeds

Whatever happened to... the smartphone?

We try and find out

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Excuse No.3: Why pay more for a slower performance, and worse battery life

Lacking a killer application, smartphones have succeeded more because they're a status symbol, than for practical reasons. Even for the most reliable smartphones, there are serious disadvantages - such as a time taken to open a text message, and having only a half to a quarter of the battery life of a dumbphone. That's for the good ones. In markets where Palm and Microsoft models are popular, they don't even have the reputation for reliability.

The US market has paid dearly. European operators subsidize models heavily, so with a new contract people are offered a top of the range smartphone for next to no cost. In the US, the price is $350 to $700, with most offered at around $500.

Excuse No.4: And then came the iPod

The popular media had been talking about 'convergence' for so long, it took Apple to remind everyone that converged devices frequently combined the worst of all possible worlds. To the consumer, the iPod did one thing very well - media playback. The iPod has grown more ambitious since its launch, but its place in your life remains the same: media is acquired on a PC, transferred painlessly, and then becomes portable.

Can they do the same with all the parts of the puzzle that make acquiring and playing music as seamless?

The suitability of dedicated devices wasn't a secret to business users in the United States, who were accustomed to carrying two devices - a phone and a pager - around with them. Then, just as SMS looked set to kill the pager, along came RIM, to give enterprise users an iPod lesson. The Blackberry does one thing very, very well - and still sets the benchmark for usability. This had the effect of putting the phone manufacturers pretensions into an unforgiving light, and they've responded by bundling service from Blackberry, or one of its clones, into their business range.

And against all expectations, the PDA is still with us. The trend is unmistakable, but despite nine successive quarters in which sales have slumped, between five and six million handhelds will be sold this year. Again, it's not hard to see why. For example, Palm's ancient OS, dubbed "Frankengarnet", still provides superior to-do management (with priorities and categories) than most smartphones - and it gives the user a desktop PIM suite right out of the box, rather than obliging them to sync with Outlook or Notes.

The advantages of convergence remain exactly as they were: one need only carry one device, and one charger. But it remains to be seen how well the phone manufacturers can rise to the challenge.

Excuse No.5: Microsoft reset everyone's expectations to zero

While Microsoft's numbers rarely meet its boasts, there's some evidence Redmond may have succeeded in tilting the expectations in its favour. The European market is currently awash with PDA-style devices, many of which are operator branded, running Windows Mobile.

It's amazingly rare to see anyone using one as their sole device. But then subsidies are generous, and Microsoft offers very generous licensing terms for new models - which explains why they enter and leave the market so quickly. So operators are happy to dangle them as a bait to lure people into experimenting with data services. I've met a few users who have one, and they tend to be professionals, but not technology geeks. Because these Windows PDAs are regarded as a bit of extra bling, and a bonus, this tends to temper criticism. So long as Microsoft can afford to keep flinging these anonymous gadgets at the market, people will become more accustomed to their data being in one device, and phone calls being in another. All of which suggests a long and healthy future for the dumbphone.

What's missing from this list? Are these criticisms too harsh?

In the coming days we'll review two of the most ambitious smartphones to see how well they fare - from Sony Ericsson and Nokia.

What has been surprising to this reporter this summer, has been getting acquainted (or reacquainted) with some of the most senior smartphone designers of the past decade, and discovering they too have returned to the dumbphone. Maybe one had found the secret when he told me:

"Old technology works best." ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
Google eyes business service in latest Fiber trials
Lucky Kansas City buggers to host yet another pilot program
Huawei exec: 'Word of mouth' will beat Apple and Samsung in Europe
World Mobile Telephone Factory No.3 won't fling the big bucks around just yet
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.