Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

Age of Abundance (The Dedicated Device Rule)

There’s a fresh article in this month’s UK Wired- “Watches are the ultimate proof that we are not rational“, which applies directly to me (and an increasing number of my VC friends.)

It reminded me of a discussion that happened during my MBA – we were asked to envision what “the watch of the future” would be- ideas of mini-computers embedded in watches, internet connected glasses, etc populated the conversation. I suggested that the watch of the future was no watch- time was all around us and on every phone (this was when my Ericsson T29 constantly showed the time, not my black as night iPhone), and for a long time I lived by my prediction- no watch. Just my phone. My personal philosophy for many years has been one of simplicity- having just *one* of anything…

But days have changed, and on the watch front, I now own more watches than ever before… my three favorites are my Suunto T3 heart rate monitor- my trusted companion as I pedal away on my bike for 100+ miles a week, my Casio CA53W-1 for splitting up the dinner tab, and my Explorer II because it needs to be worn to be wound-  I love the idea of a self sufficient, kinetic watch. The one thing the three watches have in common is that they all offer dual time; as an expat that’s one point that never crossed my mind during my MBA (even though I was sitting in Spain at the time)- how important knowing what time it was in more than one city at any given moment. Instantly. But they are all very different watches, designed for different purposes or occasions.

Yes, my iPhone shows me the time (and weather) across the globe, but having a dedicated item on my wrist has taken on more importance over the years- and I’ve had a proliferation of watches in the interim.

I think the same applies the digital devices world. (I’ve had device creep without even realizing it.)

My iPhone was the holy grail when I bought it (and gets more powerful with each generation and app release), and I thought it would be the only device I needed… but I carry an iPhone and a Blackberry daily, and if rumors are to be believed, will probably add an iTablet to the mix soon. In the computing world, I also own 3 computers (iMac, Macbook Pro, Lenovo PC) but will also be getting a cloudbook next month. I tend to travel with both my Macbook and my PC. A cloudbook may replace my Macbook, but that remains to be seen… (I imagine it will end up being for checking mail and social activities online from the couch more than as a road warrior…)

I was even handed a dedicated wikipedia device last week as well- which is designed to be used by school kids.

All of the devices mentioned above are designed to perform one core function, with overlapping functionality in other areas. For me, I believe the future of devices will be exactly the same. Simplicity and function will drive this proliferation of dedicated devices-  the kindle, the flip, etc indicate the future… all in one devices means lowest common denominator. Dedicated devices mean optimal design and performance….

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