The Most Convergent Category of All
Name this gadget: it shoots video, allows you to order clips, lay down a music track and record a voiceover, logs onto the internet with the press of one button, and automatically uploads your fully-edited mini-movie to YouTube or a blog of your choice. What do you think...a fancy camcorder with WiFi? An ultra-mobile PC with a webcam? Nope, in 2008, that device is a cellphone, the Z10 from Motorola.
Though very few new phones were announced at CES 2008, partly because the carriers are still in a major push to sell all the hot models that came out just before the holidays (like the second most talked-about handset of ‘07 after the cult-inspiring iPhone, LG’s dual-screened smartie, the Voyager) and partly because big announcements are being saved for CTIA in early April. Still, cellphone manufacturer booths were packed with conventioneers doing hands-on demo’s of the most convergent devices at CES: smartphones like Samsung’s BlackJack 2 or UTStarcom’s Sidekick LX.
Partnerships between manufacturers and content providers made news across product categories this year, but in the telecomm industry, those partnerships are allowing consumers a “lean back experience,” meaning that things which used to be confusing, like uploading a photo you just shot with your camera phone to your blog, are becoming way easier. A software service company called Shozu, for example, has partnered with companies like Motorola to, as a company spokesman said, “put your online social life in your pocket,” meaning it allows a cell-user to upload photos or video directly to Web 2.0 meeting places like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, or Kodak EasyShare. Another new company, phonecasting.com, allows users to call a phone number, record a podcast from their phone, and then give out a phone number to friends and family so they can call in to hear that podcast for themselves without having to download a thing.