Smart Phones Have To Be Dumb

By | November 29, 2004

I’ve been giving a Treo 600 a run for its money in the past couple of months and I’m impressed. Yes, I know that there’s a new one out and I’m way behind the curve, but my theory is that these products need to be not just good, but super reliable if they are going to fulfill their main purpose: Be a phone.

The thing is this. It’s great being able to do all this stuff on a gadget not much bigger than a cellphone, from checking email, to downloading RSS feeds, to taking photos, to playing Boggle, to instant messaging, to having SMS dialogs appear as IM chat threads. Great, wonderful. But what happens if you need to make or take a call and the whole thing freezes up?

That’s what happened to me again this morning when I was trying to take a call from my friend Colin. For sure, it was just another one of those ‘whatcha doin’?’ type calls, but what if it had been an ailing relative desperately trying to get through? Or I needed to call 911 or its local equivalent?

For me, smart phones have to be, first and foremost, dumb phones. They have to work as a phone, all the time, before they do anything else. If they don’t do that with reliability, then folk are going to start thinking twice about having everything else packed into it. Indeed, there’s still a lot to be said to having a small cellphone that just does cellphone stuff, and then another gadget that does all this other stuff.

2 thoughts on “Smart Phones Have To Be Dumb

  1. pieman

    Any idea why the thing freezes?

    Personally, I just want a phone to be a phone. Sometimes you gotta draw a line. I mean if you get a work email on your Treo in the pub, what you gonna do? Your boss knows (I guess) you’ve got a Treo and he can email/AIM/SMS, maybe even call you (if the thing works that is) anytime he wants, doesn’t matter whether you’re at the desk or not. Either way, you’re almost duty bound to reply.

    By blurring the lines between work time and play time, these things enslave as much as they free their users. Maybe we haven’t evolved enough to accept that sometimes, even though you’ve got every mobile ‘contact me now’ gadget going bar a Star Trek beam-thing, you might just on occasion want to be left alone i.e. in the pub. beach, gym whatever.

    Are we ‘allowed’ to ignore messages these days? Is there a Treo switch which will store your incoming messages of any kind and only alert you at a time you pre-designate? Or does that take away the sole reason for needing something a Treo? And like you say, if the thing can’t get its head around the basics, like a, err, phone call, why bother?

    One more thing. I recently met a French woman who worked in Cambodia for 4 years. She drove her employers mad because she wouldn’t give them her personal mobile phone number. Her justificatiion was, she didn’t want to be contacted in her free time and as she was contactable at work 9 to 5 didn;t see a need. But, how many (non-French) people have you heard of taking a stand like that?

  2. Oscar A Jofre Jr.

    I agree, smart-phones need to be dumb enought to get access to the work. The problem is you need a larger screen to work on these devices.

    We solved this problem, so manufacturers can now build dumber devices and giving the user the experience and power if working on their desktops..

    I look forward to your comments.

    Oscar A Jofre Jr.
    Meta4hand Inc.


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