Crave Talk: Is the mobile phone killing tech?

New research shows people are deserting standalone MP3 players for music phones -- are mobiles taking over the world, or is this wishful thinking by phone manufacturers?

Andrew Lim
2 min read

The UK officially loves music phones. According to figures produced by M: Metrics, 40 per cent of UK mobile phone users own a music phone. Relative to the rest of Europe and the US, the UK also downloads the most music specifically for listening to on our phones. Unsurprisingly, Sony Ericsson handsets make up five of the top ten most popular music phones in the UK, with the W850i topping the charts.

What's really interesting about this new research is that 31 per cent of those who use both a music phone and a digital music player in the US selected their music phone as their primary music device, while 11 per cent use both equally. Almost a third of January phone sales in the US were music phones, so we can expect more and more people will listen to music primarily on their phones.

PDAs have already been crushed by smart phones and the same thing looks to be happening with standalone MP3 players, particularly the smaller flash ones -- a theory supported by Apple's recent entry into the world of music phones. If you then take into consideration the convergence of camera, GPS, TV and laptop-like functionality into mobile phones, it raises the question of how long it's going to take before all you need is a mobile phone.

For some, the answer is no time at all, as many technology fans use their mobiles for practically everything -- but there are many who argue that there's no replacing a good standalone device. One particular issue, highlighted time and time again, is the slow progress in battery technology, which limits how long people can use all the features in their cutting-edge mobile phones.

The irony is that many people don't seem to mind charging their phone every day or even every five or six hours, which in my opinion takes the 'mobile' out of the phone. What's the fun or even practicality of carrying around a charger with you wherever you go, or having your GPS, sat-nav and MP3 player turn off, when all you needed to do is make a simple phone call?

The other issue is quality, particularly when it comes to things like taking photos, browsing the Web and watching TV. So far, camera enthusiasts have, in general, been unimpressed by the quality of images produced by camera phones compared to those taken on standalone digital cameras.

As for browsing the Web, most people will agree that there's simply no comparison between using a mobile phone and using a laptop. Mobile TV, as it exists in the UK, hasn't really taken off, for similar reasons.

Yes, it's useful to have everything in one pocket-friendly device and yes, I love all the features manufacturers are managing to cram into phones. But I don't think the majority of people are ready to give up their laptops, MP3 players and dSLRs just yet -- do you? -Andrew Lim