Cisco's recent announcement that it was closing its Flip mini-camcorder business got us thinking. It's pretty clear that today's smartphones, with their excellent HD video cameras, are partly to blame for the Flip's demise. But how many other consumer products and services--digital or analog--are being killed off by the big, bad smartphone?
We've assembled a list of likely victims here. If you know of other smartphone-induced casualties, please tell us in the Comments section--or contact your local law enforcement authorities. Let's start with the most obvious victims...
When was the last time you carried a digital music player that couldn't do a dozen other things, too? When Apple unveiled the original iPhone in 2007, the die was cast: Portable audio devices incapable of doubling as gaming machines and Web browsers (see: iPod Touch) would slowly fade away. And the latest iPod Touch, which includes FaceTime video chat, is essentially a Wi-Fi video phone itself. Yes, the iPod Classic is still around, but its days may be numbered. And though Apple continues to ring up immense profits, its iPod business has been in decline for some time.
Portable Game Consoles
The Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP are still selling, but these portable game gadgets seem like relics from an era when people used cell phones strictly to make and receive calls. Today's smartphone, of course, is a gaming juggernaut: App stores for Apple and Android handsets offer tens of thousands of games. So why carry around a separate game console? And though console makers are stepping up their efforts, the smartphone guys are right there with them. Do you crave a new Nintendo 3DS for glasses-free 3D gaming? Well, 3D smartphones like the LG Thrill and HTC EVO 3D promise a similar thrill.
An inexpensive point-and-shoot like the $250 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V probably takes better pictures than your smartphone. But before long, the humble phone camera will match or surpass the photographic prowess of its point-and-shoot brethren. The latest handsets--in particular, the iPhone 4--capture crisp, clear images that many users consider suitable for scrapbooks and slideshows. Pretty soon, you'll park the point-and-shoot in the closet for good.
Personal Video Players
Remember Archos's lineup of portable media players? How about Apple's iPod Video 5th Generation? Both were built for video and audio consumption, two capabilities that have since migrated to the jack-of-all-trades smartphone. And today's plus-size handsets, such as the HTC ThunderBolt--with high-resolution, 4-inch-or-larger displays and 4G data speeds capable of handling HD video streaming--are the final nail in the coffin. The stand-alone portable media player is a goner.
"Note to self: Buy jacket with extra pockets to hold voice recorder, PDA, cell phone..." That's a voice memo from my digital recorder, circa 2001. Okay, not really--but my point is that stand-alone voice recorders were yet another digital device to carry around. No wonder they've gone the way of the PDA (see below). Dirt-cheap recorders such as the $29 Sony ICD-BX800 and the $54 Olympus VN-8100PC persist, but a smartphone with an app like the free RecForge Free (for Android) or the $2 Voice Record (for iPhone) is the sensible choice for any pocket-challenged gadget lover.