TomTom, iPhone, and the death of "unitaskers"
Who out there would buy an automatic potato peeler? Or a towel just for toes? Or, more seriously, a pocket calculator? Productivity blog Unclutterer calls them unitaskers. In music they're one-hit wonders. In tech, there's another name for them: dead in the water.
To be honest, it's always a good idea to read "is this the end of ___?" posts with a bit of skepticism, but PC World's "Will TomTom's iPhone App Herald the End of One-Function Devices?" has many asking if we need a separate GPS unit. Now we wonder: what gadgets will an all-in-one, Swiss Army Knife of a device replace next?
Handheld gaming systems? When iPods play video games along with music and videos, how do Nintendo or Sony's offerings get any thumbtime? The answer could lie in quality, playability, or popular titles, but as the capabilities of the iPhone and other multifunction devices improve – and game manufacturers race to stay relevant by offering their content on the most popular devices, those advantages can lose their edge.
Digital cameras? The professional photography element will always have SLR-type equipment – probably, but what about the everyday consumer? Why buy a standalone still or video camera when the one embedded in your über-device doesn't take up any more room in your pocket, doesn't need a separate charger, and is capable of sending your pics and vids to friends wirelessly? Quality is already beginning to catch up, as evidenced in, yes, the new iPhone 3G S, but even more potently, in the Samsung Pixon12, a 12-megapixel cameraphone unveiled this month. (Yes, more megapixels don't necessarily make a better picture, but it's still pretty amazing.)
Perhaps most importantly, and overlooked in many discussions about gadget convergence, is this: What happens when this device, which has taken the place of 10 others in your tech quiver, gets dropped in a toilet, stolen, or left in a cab? As the iPhone's already proven, a replacement can mean big bucks.
Can you think of any more? Leave your predictions on what gadgets will go the way of the Dodo in the comments.