Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Technology Convergence... on the new iPhone (Part 1)

I remember 10 years ago, just fresh out of college and aready starting out as an instructor in the university, the first piece of mobile technology I owned was an Easycall pager. For those of you young ones who have never seen or heard of pagers (or beepers, as others called these), these are electronic devices used to contact people through a paging network. The pager beeps or vibrates when a message is received and the user simply has to look at its monochrome one-liner lcd screen to read the message, which was usualy brief due to character number limits. It predates mobile phone technology, but it established the now indispensible short message service (SMS). I will never forget how difficult it is to send messages to friends, because you have to contact Easycall first, talk to an operator and then dictate your message. Talk about privacy!

I then owned a bulky Motorola Modulus (A), my first cellphone, to boost my pager connectivity. It was bulky compared to today's size standards, but during that time was revolutionary. I recall seeing Mam Ci's cellphone then, which she used in the early years of CBR, which was so huge it had to be carried with a bag! Think landline phone attached to a car battery inside a messenger bag. My Modulus was soon replaced by the boxy Ericsson GA628 (B) which was then popular, because of its basic SMS capability (one liner!), smaller size and customizability (well, you could only change the casing, the face plate and the tiny ring around the antenna. I had the yellow on black!). Then, I was sent to Japan, where I was able to observe the trendy sleek candy look of the phones then. I was able to purchase the sleek metallic maroon Panasonic GD92 (C). I loved this phone so much I owned it for quite a long time. You know, I tend to be "faithful" to my gadgets, almost to the point that I refuse to accept that other phones are better than mine. This soon changed when I went to Sweden, where I owned a Sony CMD J5 (D). Now this was a cool phone. It was the first phone I phoned which had the ability to record voices and use it as ringtone, polyphonic tones, and animated menus. It also had the jog dial and a headset. Most of all, it was a Sony (I have a Sony fetish... really, I would agree to have the Sony logo tattood on my ass!). A few months after I went home, Ericsson announced it would merge with Sony. My dreams of owning future technological descendants of the CMD J5 was shattered, especially when Sony Ericsson unveiled their first models, and they looked soooo... boxy Ericsson. Goodbye jogdial... (I may be biased when I say this, but the jogdial is a very ergonomic way of controlling devices. Not only is it intuitive, but requires little dexterity and effort). My CMD J5 was soon replaced by the Sony Ericsson T100 (E), then the T230 (F), my first colored phone. Of course, there were other models which had PDA and organizer capabilities, but I had no reason to buy them since I owned a Palm. Soon I had Sony Ericsson K700i (G), my first camera phone. However, the camera wasn't that impressive, so I still had to use my Cybershot to capture quality pictures. Soon, the K750i was released, and I was drooling, because it had expandable memory and better camera functions. Now, I own a K800i (H)... sooooo nice! But enough of this trip to mobile memory lane (I'm sure you also tried to recall all the phones you owned...).

My story spanned 10 years, and it is quite obvious how fast mobile technology has developed and is still developing. During the time I purchased my K800i, there have already been rumors that Apple (I drool for a Mac!) will be releasing their first mobile phone. As an avid fan of Apple's technological designs, I almost held back from buying the K800i, and rather wait for the Apple phone's release. But, I badly needed a new phone, since my K700i was already dying and I have become notorious for not replying to messages, mostly because I failed to receive them. I was greatly attracted to K800's camera function... it had a 3.2 Megapixel camera, the same resolution as my Cybershot so somehow this would make my camera obsolete. Also, it had very good music playback capabilities, thus making my mp3 player a redundant gadget.

Apple already formally announced that they will be releasing the new iPhone around June-July, but it won't be available in the Philippines until October. They claim that it will revolutionize the way we see cellphones, and other phone makers will be hardpressed to follow in Apple's tracks. It is a combination of the iPOD, a PDA, and a phone, and it will be utilizing the MacOS thereby making it capable of running versatile apps and widgets. It seems that the trend in technology nowadays is convergence... where functions of various tools are 'converged' into one gadget (camera-music phones, tv-computing, computerized wired houses). Impressive? Not necessarily, because the functions of such gadgets may be so overwhelming, the users find them more difficult to use. Anyone noticed how user manuals tend to grow bigger as the devices that they aim to explain grow smaller? Designers are challenged to create products which are still easy to use... Apple claims that this is more than a reality in their new iPhone. I'm a little wary of first releases, so I might hold back on the succeeding versions where the bugs of initial releases are already sorted out. You might not know, Apple might release an iPhone mini (in the tradition of the iPOD releases). Check its features at Apple iPhone's website and don't fail to view this advertisment aired during Conan O'Brien's Late Night Show:

Hmmmm... I change my mind, I will be running at the stores as soon as it gets released if only for its treadmill feature...

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