What Will the Smartphone Kill?

(Photo: Office de tourisme)

Today’s smartphone, it is often said, has more computing power than an Apollo rocket.

So it should not be surprising that is it disrupting daily life left and right. Every day or two I seem to notice another common item whose usage is plummeting, perhaps bound for oblivion.

I will likely never buy an alarm clock again since my phone can handle the job better. Are clocks and wristwatches on the way out? Has anyone bought a road atlas lately — or even a dedicated GPS system for your car?

How about a camera (still or video), a piece of “stereo equipment,” a radio?

My daughter, who is 10 and likes to spiff up now and again, doesn’t carry a pocket mirror. Rather, she turns her iPod Touch camera on herself.

What else will smartphones replace, in part or whole? Boyfriends, perhaps?

Am eager to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Alistair Cunningham says:

    All of the above except higher-end cameras and stereo equipment. It’ll be a long time, perhaps never (due to optical/acoustic limits), before smartphones can match good quality DSLRs or Hifi equipment.

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    • Eva says:

      I do wonder if a sort of unintended consequence will be that the higher end disappears. Most people are content using the mediocre cameras etc. in their phones. Will it be worth developing the high end without a mass market to support that? Assuming that improvements at the high end eventually “trickle down” to the mass market, thus generating a greater return on investment.

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      • Loren Pechtel says:

        No–point and shoot cameras do not kill DSLRs. Smart phones are at present on a par with the lower end of the point and shoot cameras. Thus there is no reason to think they will kill DSLRs.

        No matter how good the sensor gets you can’t pack DSLR quality optics into a smart phone.

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  2. Mark says:

    This is a minor one, but I’ll never buy another guitar tuner again since my phone does it just fine.

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    • Quentin says:

      Also related: metronomes.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      And pitch pipes.

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      • Chris Woodrow says:

        I actually prefer a pitch pipe in a crowd, because I can control the volume. By blowing softly and then increasing the intensity, I can make sure I don’t blow too loudly.

        Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I suppose I could create an interface to handle pitch And volume….

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    • jordan says:

      I love using my phone tuner in a pinch, but it will never replace my pedal tuner for live performances. I love it for a metronome though. Matched with headphone its great.

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    • Eva says:

      I use a clip-on. Wish my phone could do that, though.

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  3. Nanno says:

    I’ll probably never get a landline phone.

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    • Dad says:

      My wife and I got a landline when we bought a house. The sole reason that if we ever get a babysitter, can we trust her cell phone?

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      • Kazzy says:

        Our alarm system requires a landline.

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      • Andy says:

        Presumably you could pick a babysitter that had a working cell phone. How would you even contact them to hire them in the first place?

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      • tdr says:

        We have a landline so our kids have access to a phone when we are not home. In fact we have an ooma (voip) AND a basic landline phone, tethererd to the wall. The latter has proved useful in the event of a power outage or the modem/router/ooma get unplugged.

        The older kids have phones, but they are tracfones and though very costly to use per minute, they are VERY cheap if you only buy a $20 card every 2 or 3 months. Definitely not reliable in case of an emergency and anyway the 8 year old doesn’t have one.

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    • Nanno says:

      Kazzy, so does my mother’s alarm system and my internet connection, that’s why I specified landline-PHONE.

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    • Mike B says:

      Yeah, what’s not to love about 8′s of service.

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    • Jeff M says:

      I would guess that the younger people are, the more likely they are to be 100% wireless. I am 42 and while I consider myself to be a digital savy tech user, I have my roots in analog. I have a landline and my wife and I both have cell phones. We could easily lose the landline, especially now that legislation allows you to keep your cell number if you change companies. To me the land line gives a sense of permanence to my connectivity to the world. I know I do not need it but I pay $33 a month for that comfort. My millennial coworkers mostly do not have landlines. Never had it and probably never will. I guess in the end it is harder to unplug than it is to never plug in.

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  4. Mark says:

    I also use mine as a flash drive to take all my files with me all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not long before phones are doing most of our home computing, maybe with the addition of a bluetooth keyboard and monitor, but with all the processing power and storage needed in the phone.

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  5. John Moran says:

    In the near future:
    - Handheld video game systems
    - Credit cards
    - Remote controls
    - iPods
    And much more…

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    • Quentin says:

      I mostly agree, except iPods will continue to fill a niche for children too young for a phone. My kids both have iPods … for now.

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  6. Jacob Silber says:

    How about the dashboard of your car? We think so!

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    • Clint says:

      It certainly has the capability to replace the dashboard to your car, but I kinda doubt it will. There will be too much liability for Ford/GM/Toyota for the app to go forward. Imagine if the app failed while driving then an accident occurred. Both the phone and the car will be liable.

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      • JPB says:

        People said the same about GPS systems in cars and backup cameras. Both are in place today. Believe me, lawyers know how to write disclaimers on this stuff if there’s money to be made.

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      • James says:

        Don’t know about the liability, but would you really want a car that couldn’t be driven if you lose/forget your phone?

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      • James says:

        And would you really want to try to look at speedometer & other gauges on a phone-sized screen?

        (A problem with a lot of suggested applications such as GPS maps, e-readers, and so on. If you make the screen big enough to be usefully read, the device is no longer small enough to be easily portable.)

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  7. Clint says:

    The actual phone. For all of the cool gadgets, apps and features the smart phone has. It still has no better service for the actual PHONE (calling people). There is really no difference between the smart phone and a 60$ throwaway phone in the terms of recieving/making calls. Until their phone service improves, magicjack, skype and throwaway phones are still good substitutes for the PHONE part of the smartphone.

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  8. David Castells says:

    They will replace dictionaries, specially the “survival guide” type.

    Agendas, Notebooks.

    And, of course, CreditCards.

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