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Before Declaring Device Convergence King, Consider Battery Life

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It is not like I didn’t see this coming, but when Cisco (s csco) announced its decision to shut down its recently-acquired Flip portable camera division (which actually wasn’t doing too badly, but was only experiencing slower growth than expected) yesterday, I couldn’t help feeling that it was somewhat premature. It was actually my healthy stock of Apple (s aapl) devices and iOS apps that led me to feel this way.

It appears as if the analyst are convinced that convergence is king, and smartphones are the future. Looking at Apple, it appears as if this trend is being realized as their once miraculous army of hundreds of millions of iPods has quickly transitioned into their now better equipped army of one-hundred million iPhones. With internet connectivity, GPS, camera, video, music and voice, it certainly is the very model of convergence. But the developer in me sees the very concrete issue of battery life becoming more of a concern with each and every feature being added into apps. Making every app in the App Store socially-connected and location-aware is making getting through the day without reaching for my external backup battery iPhone charger more and more difficult.

So while analysts continue to convince investors that standalone, single purpose consumer electronic devices are not the way to go, I can’t help but think that this will only add to the number of additional chargers I will need to carry around on my technology utility belt. If I will have to carry around an additional piece of tech anyway, why not have it serve a dedicated purpose? Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I still carry around my GPS Data Logger, iPod nano, Flip Video Camera, iPhone 4 and JustMobile Gum charger. Perhaps if Cisco made its Flip video camera a smartphone charger as well, it would have a place in this future dominated by convergence.

6 Responses to “Before Declaring Device Convergence King, Consider Battery Life”

  1. The entire premise is flawed. Sure, I could carry around a Flip, a phone, a still camera. But that’s a lot more bulk that my iPhone’s tiny wall charger and sync cable or a tiny external battery backup or a slim battery case. And what if my Flip runs out of juice? Oops! I didn’t pack the charger to cut down on bulk.

    It’s a lot more convenient to carry just my phone in my pocket and always have it with me at all times. Then I just resort to the tiny charger as needed, which isn’t often even under heavy use.

  2. Hamranhansenhansen

    Wrap your iPhone in the biggest Mophie Juice Pack and it is still half the size of a Flip, and it still has more capacity and a video editor and Web upload.

    • I don’t actually carry around all of my gear all of the time. And as you point out, the iPhone is a great all purpose device. And I am a true believer that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you need it.

      That being said, I have over 1000 Apps, 120 GB of Music, and 3-4 TB of Video. I take on average 25K photos a year and about 1.2K are worth keeping in a sharable library. Not to mention all of the data files I keep transferring in and out of my iDisk and Dropbox accounts. Space for me is just as big of an issue as battery life.

      I find that it is the Apps that are adding more social connectivity features as well as geo-location services that are eating up battery life more than my camera these days. Every App wants to be connected and know where it is connecting from.

      I do not think we are at a point where we can have it all in one device just yet, and battery life to me seems to be the achilles heel.

  3. Patrick

    I have a Flip Mino HD and an iPhone. The Flip is vastly superior in terms of recording even with its small screen. It produces solid video. My iPhone 4 on the other hand produces shit video and pictures. More often than not they appear grainy and lackluster. I’ve never had a camera phone produce quality pictures and video that wouldn’t make me use a regular camera. The Flip was a great low price camera that did one thing well.

    I really hope someone else enters the void Flip once filled.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Lower quality is an acceptable trade-off for most people to get:

      – smaller size
      – higher capacity
      – already in your pocket
      – integrated HD video editor for $5
      – direct upload to YouTube and other sites for timely sharing

      … especially when you consider that the Web version will throw away quality anyway.

      The little flip-out USB you can plug into a PC for editing and sharing was made obsolete by on board editing and sharing via Wi-Fi and 3G. And next year the iPhone camcorder will likely exceed the Flip quality.

      If you want to go the other way and get high quality video, there are many choices for that, too. I don’t think Canon makes a camera anymore that can’t shoot video.