Do we REALLY need a phone?

Shawn Rutledge shawn.t.rutledge at
Mon Apr 21 08:54:15 CEST 2008

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 3:10 AM, Stefano Cavallari
<stefano at> wrote:
>  Then you just provide some module to access the chosen network, like a SDIO
>  card (probably with a big external part like most wifi ones).
>  I was thinking of a beast like a bluetooth UMTS dongle. There are already USB

I used to think like that too.  Maybe it's a good idea.  It would
certainly be way better for the environment.  However, it costs more
in several ways (engineering, components and space) to make it
modular, and for the idea to make sense you are relying on a couple of
things: that the handheld will satisfy you for such a long time (10
years maybe), and that it will make sense to continue to build modules
with whatever interface you chose at the beginning (considering that
the minimum-sized module you can build at the beginning will be
looking excessively big in a few years).  But technology moves faster
than you expect.  I think especially now, LCDs may be replaced with
OLEDs and EInk displays (both of which are less fragile, and each of
which has other advantages), and multitouch is becoming popular, and
embedded projectors may be the next must-have phone feature in a
couple more years, and graphene-based processors will eventually be
orders of magnitude faster than current silicon ones (if we are
looking far enough into the future).  Developers especially will tend
to want to write software for the newest devices.

However the Newton has had one of the longest lives, and the best
upgradeability too, because of the PCMCIA slot, and the software that
was so far ahead of its time.  Some people reportedly still use them
now, and have been able to to add various wireless networking
technologies to them.  So there's a device that really did have a 10+
year life.  But most people think they are too bulky.  Still if the
device does more, bulk can be tolerated, especially in exchange for a
really high-res screen.

The next thing I would really like to see standardized is batteries.
There are so many approximately the same size, but purposely
incompatible.  We've had names for standard cylindrical batteries for
longer than most people can remember, so why not a rectangular 1Ah
LiIon battery with just a letter name, like maybe "R" for rectangular?

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