A lot is changing in the mobile world. Product lines are getting fuzzy, and there is a lot of overlap in functionality of the different mobile devices available. Phones are adding functions. PDA’s are adding functions. Media devices are adding functions. Will there even be any differentiation between the these product lines in the future?
For the immediate future, I believe these different product lines will continue to exist because each one focuses on a different use. Each device is designed with a specific interface to directly access and manage it’s primary function.
Let’s take the phone for example. Most phones have a green iconized button to answer a call and a red iconized button to end a call. These buttons are specific to the function of the phone and are useless for other devices. You could argue that they would be useful for a smart phone. However, when you add these buttons to a smart phone, you are pretty much deciding that the buttons will be used primarily for the phone function of the device. Thus, the use of the buttons is diluted, so to speak, for other functions of the device. You may as well not have the buttons when you use the smart phone for something other than a phone call. I realize you can assign other functions to the buttons through software, but it makes the device more complicated for most users to figure out, or at least, they have to take the time to figure them out.
Even further in the future, I really think different mobile product lines will continue to exist because they will be able to excel and to further enhance the experience they want to offer the consumer. Of course, technology will enable mobile devices to do more things and do them better. However, will the different product lines be able to differentiate themselves as much as they do now? It will be interesting to find out.