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Friday, December 07, 2007

So what do you want in your phone for Xmas?

I saw "disruptive" adverts from two companies yesterday - both advocating bypassing the cellular network through choosing handsets with advanced features

- Truphone is advocating getting smartphones (ideally with WiFi, but at least "Internet ready")
- SanDisk is exhorting customers to "discover their slots'

The issue I see is that the SanDisk argument (sideloading of micro-SD cards) is indisputably usable without incurring extra operator charges, while the "Internet-ready" approach typically means paying out for a data plan (albeit with the potential to save money via using VoIP as well) unless you just use local WiFi.

In an ideal world, your Internet-ready phone would also have a 'no cost' win by enabling efficient sideloading as well - it would be 'PC ready' for connection via USB cable, or better still WiFi. But many people still balk at the clunkiness of PC-phone connectivity, and instead turn to memory cards. This ties in with my recent comment about the lack of cool "local" apps for WiFi phones.

SanDisk's marketing is also a manifestation of another long-term trend - the much steeper price/performance curve of storage, compared with other computing metrics like processing power, network capacity or battery power density. Brough Turner has had a couple of fascinating blog posts recently on this. The long and short of it is that, if your application doesn't need to be realtime, memory wins out over wireless networks.

The world's highest-capacity form of data transport between two cities is a truck full of flash memory. Lousy latency, but awesome bandwidth. Luckily for Truphone & peers, latency is rather more of an issue for VoIP than it is for content....

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