Single Purpose Device or Versatile Devices?

How Podsites work. We all know that ipods offer limited text support, but it’s a little crazy to think that people would design text sites for it. This is a case where a workaround reveals an unmet need. It would be far easier to put this on a PDA or ebook reader.

On another note, I possess: a cellphone, a high end PDA, a 40 gig mp3 player, a bluetooth keyboard and of course an ebook reader. Obviously it would be better if one device could encompass all these things. But because of form factor, or because single purpose devices are easier (and cheaper) to design, people are trying to make these devices more versatile.

Here are some reasons to opt for single purpose devices. First, if you use a device for a subscription (for example a cellphone), you don’t want to be tied down to a single provider. Second, breakability. Versatile devices, by their complexity, are more prone to failure. A failure on one function risks making other functions inoperable. Third, costs. Versatile devices will always be more expensive than single purpose devices. You limit your risk by having multiple devices that are easy to replace.

What I would like is a universal battery charger that could charge all these things (kind of like a multiple card reader), and a device-to-device USB interface to move content back and forth (although perhaps bluetooth could do it). I don’t like having to carry batteries and wires, but hopefully as battery times increase, it won’t be always necessary to lug around rechargers or connectors. It would be nice if this Uberdevice could handle multiple types of cards, and PDA’s are rapidly doing this.

A laptop is a good form factor, though the prices are way too expensive (and the screens are prone to failure). When the screen fails, do you throw the whole laptop away? Also, midsized laptops are simply not portable enough to carry around without looking conspicuous. On the other hand, I haven’t found my PDA versatile enough to be useful (not yet anyway), although my foldable bluetooth keyboard may change that. The other thing about PDA is security; it’s just too expensive to keep around without becoming paranoid.