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Businesses Destroyed By Smart Phones

This is an interesting article on the top business that have been destroyed by the emergence of the smart phone. I have my doubts that PDAs were killed by Smart Phones so much as PDA’s became Smart Phones. Palm was destroyed because they failed to keep up. I think Research in Motion, who pioneered the Smart Phone with a truly awful product may not be far behind. Smart Phones probably will largely eat the MP3 player market, and the low end point and shoot market. That much makes sense.

But the GPS market? The PC market? Watches? Having once upon a time been a fairly serious hiker, my iPhone presents a serious impediment to being used as a GPS, namely that it won’t tolerate being dunked in water, rained on, smashed against a rock, or dropped. Those are important features for something going with you outdoors, and I’ve never seen a PDA that had a speaker loud enough, and mounting hardware good enough to do auto navigation effectively. That’s one function I’m looking for application specificity. What if I get a call while I’m navigating somewhere? As for watches, who wants to have to dig a Smart Phone out from under 10 layers of clothes during the winter just to see what you could easily see by turning your wrist? And the idea that Smart Phones having displaced PC is laughable. Until a smart phone can project two 1080p monitors side by side directly onto my retina, I’m pretty sure the PC has a future.

The fact that Gartner is quoted in this is really all you need to know. I don’t think Gartner has been right about any major computing trend, and I can’t believe people still pay them money to keep producing that drivel.

10 Responses to “Businesses Destroyed By Smart Phones”

  1. A lot of the list is laughable. Cameras aren’t any better. We’re already at a point with digital cameras where optics is the image quality choke point instead of sensor resolution. There is no way a phone is going to have superior optics to a dedicated camera of any quality. They’d have to dedicate too much space to it and nobody is going to want the bigger phone.

    Yes you can use a smartphone or cameraphone to take pictures. But it’s doing the job of an old 110 film camera. Or a crappy zoomless digital point and shoot. Not the job of even a moderately priced digital camera with an optical zoom function.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I could see maybe low end point and shoots getting their market eaten, but any digital camera of reasonable quality will outperform a cell phone camera.

  3. NevynPA says:

    I doubt it will really happen. The battery life on these smartphones is so short because of all the features that are packed into them. A dedicated GPS for hiking can last 8-20 hours; using a Blackberry for geocaching will drain it in about 2. Same with navigation.

    Another thing – they’re packing all these high-end features in, and making them “smart,” but what about the PHONE? Often, the phone part of a smartphone is rather terrible in quality of sound.

  4. Shawn says:

    .5 handheld video games

    No.

    I remember people saying the iPhone would kill the PSP and DS. Didn’t happen. And even before that the N-gage would kill the GBA. And while the PSP has always been a poorer player thats more to sony stupidity than anything else. The DS has always been strong and will be but the sales will slow eventually. I mean there are just so many people that play video games. Phones, well everyone has one of those. I very highly doubt smart phones will kill Nintendo. Only Nintendo can kill Nintendo.

    Unlike these phones they (DS and PSP) have been out for 5-6 years and in the DS’s case you can smash them with a rock and drop them. So you only need to buy one.

  5. Sigivald says:

    I have my doubts that PDAs were killed by Smart Phones so much as PDA’s became Smart Phones.

    Yeah, but PDAs as a market category are deader than dead, no? That’s the point he was making, and in that one, he’s absolutely correct.

    Likewise with the GPS; I think you’ll find that the vast majority of “GPS unit” sales in the past few years were car navigation systems… and those are in a bit of trouble competing with phones that also do that job. (Contra Nevyn, remember that for car navigation, one tends to have the phone in a cradle that also charges it, so the battery issue ceases. Certainly that matches how I’ve seen them used.)

    Niche market (aviation, marine, sports) GPS systems won’t die, but that’s not what that analyst is talking about, I imagine.

    Gaming is actually one of the biggest stretches; phones don’t have the dedicated controls that a good gaming devices needs (which is the downfall of the otherwise excellent iPhone/iPodTouch gaming experience). That and, as Shawn said, durability.

    Nobody’s going to get their kid a phone-with-games instead of a DS/DSi.

    Jeff: Indeed. Though remember that a huge number of people who aren’t photographers are not replacing a “dedicated camera” with their phone. They’re replacing disposable one-use film cameras.

    Phone cameras aren’t going to replace a real camera for Dedicated Photographers, probably ever (and certainly not in the next decade, barring absolutely magical improvements) – but they already are replacing point-and-shoots for people who just want snapshots of their friends while out.

    Not so much because they’re better (as they are not), as because they’re infinitely more convenient than Another Damned Thing To Carry, and take pictures Just Well Enough.

    So he’s wrong about “cameras” being replaced by “phones” overall, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the market for cheap point-and-shoots shrank…

  6. Joe Huffman says:

    I’m on the “Location Team” for Windows Phone 7. It is our intention (and we have at least partially achieved this) to be better than a GPS for many applications. We can give low resolution location results in a fraction of a second (typically, worst case it is a second or three if we have data connectivity and visible Wi-Fi APs and/or cell towers) in places where a true GPS is cannot give you a location at all, ever. These are such places as tunnels, parking garages, and many indoor locations.

    If we have cold start, open sky, conditions then we give true GPS results almost (you would be hard pressed to measure the differences) as accurate and fast as a dedicated GPS unit. And typically we are going to be faster than the GPS unit because there is a good chance we can give the GPS radio a strong hint as where we are and convergence on the true location is much faster with a good hint.

    Other location advantages our phone has over a GPS unit is that we can use that location information to provide a better “customer experience” than the GPS. You can push a button and say “Pizza” (or “gas station”, “motel”, “library”, etc.) and the phone is smart enough to search for pizza restaurants (whatever) near your current location, and provide directions and/or a link to their website with another tap or two.

    The photos you take are tagged with the location you took the photo, and automatically uploaded to the cloud (and optionally shared with friends or the world). Does your current dedicated camera do that?

    The question is not whether the dedicated units do a better job in their specialty. The question is, “Will the phone do each of the tasks good enough and/or add enough value that the dedicated unit no longer is worth the extra money and effort of carrying around to most people?”

  7. Sebastian says:

    I think for every day use, the answer to that is yes, SmartPhones will probably displace cameras and GPS units. For driving navigation, to me the big problem is that it’s not hard to carry since you can just leave it in the car, and you don’t have to worry about what to do if you get a call.

  8. Laughingdog says:

    For GPS, I wouldn’t count on a Droid or an iPhone for a second. My friends iPhone, while in Portsmouth, VA, said we were over in Norfolk. With my Droid 2 the other day, while I was in Savannah, GA, the Droid insisted that I was across the water in South Carolina.

    Add to that the fact that my hiking/kayaking GPS uses 4 AA batteries, which I can swap out as I go, and both the hiking and motorcycles GPSs that I use are waterproof, and the smart phones really fall behind. Another flaw is that I can’t use the touch screen on my phone with a glove, so using it when it is cold out, or with motorcycle gloves, is out. Then, while driving, I can’t get directions and answer a call at the same time…but I guess some think that’s a feature. Since I can talk hands free, I see it as a nuisance.

    I also can’t see me using my phone as my primary music device until, at a minimum, battery duration increases a lot more. Smart phones run down fast enough as it is. Sucking it dry by using it to play music just makes it worse.

    The only things on that list I agree with are PDAs (as Sebastian stated, the basically evolved into smart phones), Flip video cameras, and watches. Granted, with the last one, my PDA, replaced that about a decade ago, followed by my iPod. Wristwatches became anachronistic at least ten years ago.

    The idea that smart phones are anywhere near replacing a PC or laptop is laughable. A little 3-inch touchscreen is going to replace my PC? When my smartphone can throw up a Minority Report style interactive HUD, I can see a tiny phone replacing my PC.

  9. Stretch says:

    I’ve no doubt that the Administration is working on bailouts for each and every one of these industries/services.

    Gad, If the current government mind set were around 100 years ago we’d still be able to buy a whip for our Government Buggy Corp. surry.

  10. Joe Huffman says:

    I don’t know about the iPhone or Android but with Windows Phone 7 you can take a call while the GPS is showing your location on a map. And you can toggle between the two at will. It’s not a big deal.

    I have some gloves (my BlawkHawk gloves from the Gun Blogger Summer Camp–I think it is the leather on the finger tip that enables this) that work with my touch screen. It’s not as good as my naked finger but I can make it work.

    Playing MP3/Podcasts, at least on WP7 and I’m pretty sure on late model iPhones, is very low power. You burn more mA hours by turning on the display to check your email for a few seconds than by listening for an hour.

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