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“Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None”

Here is a link to a great story about the perils of all-in-one CE devices from the Huffington Post. Reporter Bianca Bosker’s jumping off point is the demise of the Flip camcorder which Cisco pulled the plug on a few days ago.

Good quotes in here from Jason Oxman, senior VP/industry affairs of the Consumer Electronics Association, saying that the consumer is demanding products that are multifunctional.

But Bosker comments on the quality factor: “Smartphones offer connectivity, and ease of use, but choosing all-in-one gadgets over their single-purpose counterparts still means sacrificing quality for convenience.”

Personally I still think of a smartphone as a phone first and foremost. As a phone, a lot of devices, and their carriers, don’t cut it. In my experience in two major emergencies, September 11, 2001 and the East Coast blackout in Summer 2003, landlines work best.

Whenever the discussion of multifunction devices come up I remember what Paul Liao, former chief technology officer of Panasonic and current executive director of Cable Labs told me: “If you let engineers design products without restrictions they will add tons of features most consumers won’t need, use or understand.”

He pointed to a simple example, the old 19-inch TV/VCR combo. “If it breaks and you have to get it repaired you lose the use of not one, but two products – your TV and VCR.”

If you lose or break a smartphone – and don’t have home phone or backup for all the personal contacts, video, music and general data on your phone, gee, in today’s world you simply couldn’t function.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my smartphone, but its functionality can remind one of the old phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”