I’m a big fan of shiny new technological gadgets, but let’s face it, who among our generation isn’t?
In our technology driven society, if it is not about bigger, better and bolder, it is about being compact, mobile and portable. Funny how the two extremes gain an edge over the competition in different devices. Samsung’s Galaxy series boosts of higher resolution and bigger screens, while Apple’s hoping to bank in on the iPad mini. Each successive product launch or update promises added functionality to allow us to do much more on seemingly specialized devices. Remember the days when mobile phones were just used to make calls on the go? Now we bank with them, send emails and collect a suite of productivity tools to allow us to achieve more on one tiny device.
So how is it that someone like me who perennially travels around with an average of four mobile devices at any one time is now considering a device that specializes in doing one thing and one thing only? Wherever I go, I’m armed with an iPad, two iPhones and a laptop. More than enough you cry. Consumerism at its worst. (In my defense, I have one phone for local calls and the other for international calls. The iPad was a gift. My laptop is non negotiable.) I’m pretty much a mini office on the go. Anything productive that I want to do, I can probably do it through one of my four devices. In fact, functionality is pretty much repeated in a couple.
So why then when I have four mobile screens, do I find myself wanting a Kobo?
It all started with the great promise of being able to read on the go with mobile devices. While mobile phones are great for shooting of emails, I’m hardly going to strain my eyes squinting to read an epic novel of love lost, dragons slayed and estates plundered. Laptops are clunky and iPads are… well while less clunky, painful on the eyes with backlight.
So with mere days away from my next paycheck, I find myself staring in wide eyed admiration at the e-readers everyone around me is whipping out on the train. Kindle or Kobo, I wondered and promptly hit the review websites for a comparison.
The models that promised lights, camera and action! with all the bell and whistles on were promptly struck off the list. No I didn’t want 16 million colors with 1 point whatever GHz for seamless hours of entertainment. I had my iPad for that. (Actually, I don’t use my iPad for much unless the batteries on one of the other devices die out.)
Sorry iPad, what with all the bells and whistles on, I’m afraid you’re still just a back-up.
I want a proper e-reader, delivering words to me on a simulated page. At the end of the day, I don’t want to sacrifice one pleasure while, deriving benefits from the other. I don’t want to be able to read on the iPad, but suffer eye strain from screen glare. I want to do one activity and to do it extremely comfortably, without restrictions on portability and visibility.
Basically, for me, I want my device to be specialized because I don’t want to compromise. With convergence, quality inevitably suffers. While the iPhone may be able to work as a portable music player, it drains battery and songs take up space. This adversely impacts its core functionality, which is to stay in touch with family, friends (and in cases where it can’t be prevented)… colleagues. There’s no point in giving me a music player when my phone battery is not going to last through the day, when I actually need it in the evening for my dinner date.
That’s just not going to work! Hence goes my simplistic argument for the specialized devices. I’m betting on these to succeed increasingly over the years. The more devices become converged, the more opportunities exist for a specialized product to win over market share.
In short? I’m placing my bets on companies that do one thing. And do it well.