In the 80s and 90s it was all about the number of gadgets you had. The video camera, a Walkman, DSLR, a VCR, then a CD player, and a computer. There are some funny pictures of all the devices we used to have, the one below is legendary.
Then we went through a phase of consolidation, which started long ago, when we started bringing together the radio with the cassette player, the all-in-one sound system that would play anything, and then went further on, when agenda and contact manager capabilities started to get integrated into the phone with the appearance of the Treo and many of the Nokia devices.
Fast forward to today, now everything is an app, running on a single smartphone platform, so we are good now, right? We achieved convergence nirvana!
Yes, until we are barreling down the highway and about to reach an intersection, and someone is calling us right at that moment and we miss which exit is, it is 165A or B?; or when we are trying to shoot a video (or even worse, a time-lapse), but we want to entertain ourselves at the same time and our phone is hooked on shooting that video; or when we have been on Zoom calls all day on our phone, and we have no way of getting to Doordash for ordering lunch while we are at it.
I know, it doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it can be really annoying. The standard answer would be to take some of these functions and offload them to purpose-built devices, but the issue is that the use-cases are infinite and they change all the time, and we don’t want to end up with a bunch of gadgets anyway.
Some of the things we address them if we have several devices at hand, like phone+laptop, phone+smartwatch, etc.
But more and more, it seems that the answer is to have two general-purpose devices when we can, and be able to switch their function as needed. Have we had enough convergence? Is it time to unbundle?