Confused Convergence?

My good friend, Krish Sreedharan’s post on Face book, was the basic stimulant for this blog. His observation while riding a Taxi to work was a simple one, which read “hmm ... Interesting ... Taxi Uncle has a small portable radio for in-car entertainment :)”

That set my thoughts racing. We have indeed come a long way from the days of the pocket radio (a great innovation and a status symbol to carry around those days, especially for cricket commentary inside the classroom) with a plethora of innovative communication devices which actually transforms what was considered as ‘Wishful Thinking’ a few decades ago, into reality. Yet, we seem to yearn for those Good old days and gadgets. Here is an example . . .

The late 80’s and early 90’s saw the advent of Mobile phones into India. I still treasure my first Motorola hand phone, the size of a brick or a cordless land line phone from BPL - US West. It had a single line digital display, stored 25 numbers and had a battery which would go for over 4 days. It came with an antenna, which could be physically extended at spots with low signals, did not even have SMS, could make and pick calls and had none of the bells and whistles that come with a mobile phone today. Possibly the best one I’ve had to date for Voice Calls.

The next innovation, a smaller version (yet a brick compared to today’s sleek beauties) of the mobile was a revelation from Ericson. The awesome ‘One Black Coffee Please’ created a sensation across the country. The phones continued to evolve, and in came the PDA’s. The Windows powered O2 XDA’s was termed to be the ultimate in innovation, complete with a stylus and a sliding QWERTY keyboard. It was then the turn of the Berries to hold fort for a while, before the ‘Touch’ phones invaded the mobile space, setting the tone for the Tabs, Pads and Books to take up center stage. In between all this, the notebooks got thinner, macbooks went slimmer and the Symbian, RIM and Apple OS had a brand new competitor in Android, who actually managed to take the world by storm.

Relating back to the Taxi uncle, don’t we yearn for things to be a lot simpler? The Phones today are packed with so many features that they put a laptop or a notebook to shame. A phone, which used to be a device for a voice call just a couple of decades ago, is now relegated to a device, which ALSO does voice calls. Browsing, Navigating, Video Conferencing, Movie playing, Music bank, 10 MP Cameras, Remote Control, Banking, Personal Assistant . . . you name it and they are all within the capabilities of the mobile phone.

Now, with all of these features, packed into a slim beauty, available to you at a touch of a screen or a bark of a voice command, life is made so very easy, or so I thought. Making a simple call today is becoming a huge task. With the contact books of all social networks synced into a single list, browsing huge lists is a challenge. Once you have located your contact on the list and hit the call button, you have to answer the type of call that is to be made (Voice, Video, Message or Mail). Finally when the call is connected, you have a plethora of on call options to make before you get to speak to the person on the other end. Call on your speaker phone, route to a blue tooth, route to car audio speakers, – and all I needed was to CALL MY WIFE!!

All this comes with a huge price. Not just literally through hard cash, but at the cost of two very important factors that a mobile phone was designed for- Battery Life and Signal Strength.

What’s the big deal in having a phone loaded with all the gizmo’s, bells and whistles, with a battery that needs to be recharged every few hours? This is the drain on the power that the bells and whistles inflict on the phone.

Signal availability is a dreaded pair of words with today’s gizmo’s. I long for a phone that lets me walk from my Bedroom to my living room without dropping a call- I’d worry about the GPS,  mobile TV and all that other frills later . . .

I am now yearning for a phone, which does just one thing, and that is to take and make calls . . .

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