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Bill Gates: Cellphone will Beat iPod 1017

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the integration-is-the-future dept.
93,000 writes "CNN is running an article featuring Gates' prediction that the iPod is on the way out. From the article: 'As good as Apple may be, I don't believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run.' His prediction for a successor? Mobile phones-- powered by none other than Windows Mobile 5.0, of course."
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Bill Gates: Cellphone will Beat iPod

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:15PM (#12511410)
    Well there already are phones that play MP3s, it's just that nobody wants one. I don't want to have to worry about missing a phone call because my cellphone ran out of batteries while I was listening to a Red Dwarf audio book. Until Microsoft starts making Tricorders count me out.

    But I'm sure Apple would be fools not to follow Gates' prediction, after all Microsoft is the leader in innovation. /sarcasm
    • by /ASCII (86998)
      Personally, I don't want a combined pda, phone, camera and mp3-player since all such devices seem to be bad at everything they do. Big, clunky things with poor batery life, a horrible UI, low reolution camera, limited storage, etc. These 'convergence' devices are a compromise, and all compromises are a combination of the worst of two (or more) worlds.
      • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:38PM (#12511829) Homepage Journal
        Actually I can see a convergence that makes sense. If you combine your cellphone/music player with a high speed network you could have a HUGE amount of audio and video files at your disposal. You buy the songs you want and you can then stream them over the network or copy them to memory. Same with video or TV broadcasts. But running Windows... Yeck. Palm is going to Linux I can hardly wait to see how that works out.
        • by ahfoo (223186) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:15PM (#12512314) Journal
          It's not about Apple or Microsoft or Samsung or Sony or anything to do with design or branding.
          The one thing that will set a huge fire on wireless devices will be fast and very cheap networking. Hopefully WiFly will do it. But if not there's other possibilities. It's just a matter of time.
          When it does arrive, say like 1Meg bidirectional for twenty bucks a month, everybody will have one and they'll just stream all of their media from their home PC.
          But at that point the margins will be too low for either Apple or Microsoft. Instead, the handsets will probably have your telco's logo and be made by the zillion by Golden Gragon Ltd contract mega manufacturers, Shen Zhen China. They won't need more than a tiny bit of local storage since you'll keep everything at home. The rest of it wil just be a few chips and an antennae in a piece of plastic.
          The best part is that they'll be all over India and Brazil and the Ukraine just as fast as they hit the US. Globalization isn't all bad.
      • Design and Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sterno (16320)
        That's exactly why I think Apple won't be losing ground here anytime soon. Apple excels at design. The Ipod is as popular as it is because it was the first really well designed MP3 player on the market. Even today I'm hard pressed to think of a music player that's on par with the Ipod in size, features, and quality of design.

        So imagine doing the convergence that gates is talking about but with Apple's design people running the show. Imagine a device slightly smaller than comparable products with elegan
      • by dgatwood (11270)
        They're worse than a compromise. They're a total kludge. They don't do anything usably, -including- acting as a cell phone. I still carry a separate PDA and an iPod even though I could easily afford a phone that could do all of that. Why? Because when my PDA dies, I still have important phone numbers stored in my phone. When my phone dies, I still have them in my PDA.

        What I want is:

        1. A PDA with a HARD DRIVE. Enough of this 'when your battery runs down, you lose everything' crap. That's the sort
      • I think in 5 years you'll think diferently. This is just the start. I mean, Apple II came out and mainframe people though "give me a fucking break. compromized POS". and now look who's top dog.
      • by Chicane-UK (455253) * <chicane-uk.ntlworld@com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:01PM (#12512117) Homepage
        This is a shameless cut and paste from a previous post I made, but I feel its applicable here!


        You know I used to be of the same opinion, but my mind is changing on such things.

        I recently sold my Samsung E700 phone and upgraded to a Microsoft / Orange SPV C500. Its the size of a quite compact, regular phone, does all the regular phone stuff, but is powered by PocketPC - so I have access to Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, and all kinds of other wonderful things.

        I'll get the Microsoft bash out of the way first.. it crashes. As hilarious as it sounds, its the only phone i've ever had that crashes. I've had mobile phones for about 6 or 7 years now, and none of them have been as unreliable as this.. not even the very first Motorola 'brick' I had! It must crash on average once a month, which I feel is pretty poor..

        But onto the positive side. I genuinely feel that this is the swiss army knife of phones. Firstly it takes minisd cards.. so I can stick a nice 512MB minisd card in the phone, compress a DivX movie down to fit on the card, and then take a train and have a portable movie player with me. The screen is large compared to the rest of the size of the phone and is very clear. The phone comes with a handsfree kit which is also a pair of stereo headphones, so no annoying of my fellow passengers as I watch a film. I could also put MP3's on there and use it as an alternative to the iPod shuffle I recently bought...

        Secondly.. I never thought I would find having mobile internet access so helpful, but it is. Internet Explorer on this phone works surprisingly well, and renders most sites without too much trouble. Again, I never thought I would need such a frivolous feature but as I sat in Schipol airport with a girlfriend, late one Sunday night a few weeks back I wondered if I would be able to get a train back from Birmingham airport back in the UK or if the trains had all finished. No worry.. just whip out my phone, and check the train timetable online.. saved me a lot of hassle and time just having access to that. In the end we had to get a taxi ;)

        The camera is good too, and has come in handy so many times.. like getting a picture of the map of the maze at a country house before going into it so we can find our way back out if we get stuck or taking a quick snap of a note that you don't want to forget! :)

        Wonderful phone.. I don't think i'd change it for anything right now.. well.. maybe one with a bit more reliable firmware on it ;)

        Don't be so quick to gloss over the seemingly frivolous features. They are more useful than you realise sometimes!
    • i think there's good data on both sides of this argument.

      first, Apple's been trying to get into the music phone business for a minute. they've developed something with Motorola and shopped it to domestic telecoms. The telecoms didn't want the equivalent of an IPOD phone because an IPOD phone with ITUNES cuts telecoms out of the revenue stream. telecoms instead have been looking to make direct deals with the record companies. so gates isn't innovating when he says this - he's just reading his APPLE rss feed
  • Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reignking (832642) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:15PM (#12511418) Journal
    That's a safe bet...if the IPod remains as it is. There's no chance that the IPod won't morph into something else in the future...
    • Re:Sure... (Score:3, Funny)

      by PaulQuinn (171592)
      If history is a good guide, the future iPod will become a monitor.
    • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836) <nacturation&gmail,com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:19PM (#12511500) Journal
      Maybe someday it will have wireless *and* more space than a Nomad.
    • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aphrika (756248) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:29PM (#12511682)
      I've often worried about the entire Apple product line in this sense.

      If you look at how much design work they've put into their products, you can't help feeling that at some point soon, they're going to end up with the ideal solution. And at about that point, you suddenly have a major problem; stagnation of the product range, or change for the sake of change.

      The iMac is a good example; where exactly do you go from an all in one LCD? Same with the iPod. It plays music, and it plays it really well. How do you improve on it without making it more complex, or adding features some users would find redundant? Or do you simply make cosmetic changes now and again to keep it fresh?

      • Re:Sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by liquidpele (663430) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:36PM (#12511791) Journal
        Cosmetic changes are needed, but the tech industry moves fast enough that it's actually pretty hard to be stagnant in the "features" section. As for Bill's plan... personal assistant that recieves IM, Email, Phone calls, Faxes, lets you surf the web, etc is nice... unless you just a cellphone with decent battery life and don't want to pay too much for it.
        • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MikeCapone (693319) <skelterhell AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @04:08PM (#12512933) Homepage Journal
          The problem of integrating so much crap into one thing is that if one of the features break you usually have to change the whole thing. It's also harder to upgrade just one of the features when that's all you need.

          It's the same thing in the stereo world; the best stereo are power amp + preamp + source + etc..

          cheaper stereos have everything in one, so you can't just upgrade your power amp but have to scrap the whole thing, and usually everything is compromised and corners are cut to make if affordable.
      • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) <dylan@dy[ ]brams.com ['lan' in gap]> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:44PM (#12511909) Homepage Journal
        Err... Look at the fashion and / or furniture industry recently? As computers get cheaper and cheaper, and their insides / forms get easier and easier to design, there will be cooler looking / designed computers and accessories. The iPod is white because white's non-threatening and people are now generally scared of computers, but in the future there will be many, many other designs....

        It's just the beginning of a move from Computers as Tools to Computers as Appliances... Consumer Electronics are going to get cooler and cooler just like they have been for the last twenty years, Apple just raised the bar a bit.
      • Re:Sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

        How do you improve on it without making it more complex, [...]

        Give it a radio, so I can listen to my traffic report or (wishful thinking) hockey game.. then let me record from that radio. Then give it a voice recorder :)
      • by crovira (10242) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:53PM (#12512015) Homepage
        They are morphing into invisibility.

        Where can you go from there? Anywhere you want to. You are invisible.

        I wouldn't worry about product 'stagnation'.

        When the iMac first came out, in 'bondi blue', it didn't look like a box.

        The other PC makers couldn't match it. They were stuck with their beige boxes. Then they tried putting colored plastic panels around the same chassis that used to be in those beige boxes.

        We have seem the iMac morph twice, the 'football' and the half ball with a scren slung in front of it, and now its just a flat panel on a pedestal. It was obvious what was happening but the PC makers are still selling their boxes.

        I'm thinking that the MacMini and the tablet that Apple just patented, using a wireless network to hook up the devices are the future of home computing.

        PCs are still stuck in their old chassis, requiring a desk and a chair in a 'work station' and instead Apple is offering invisibility.

        If you had to change a house around, which would you rather have, a monolith with a big footprint or something you can't see except for a portable tablet?

        I'm not ever going to touch the iPod, iPod Mini and iPod Shuffle. And neither can the PC manufacturers.

        Apple 'gets it'.

        • Apple 'gets it'.

          Except when it comes to price, which is why I have never personally owned a single Apple product.

          I like Apple, but their products are too expensive. There are plenty of alternatives to Apple, which is what Apple marketshare confirms.

          • by ultramk (470198) <ultramk AT pacbell DOT net> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @05:34PM (#12513779)
            I like Apple, but their products are too expensive. There are plenty of alternatives to Apple, which is what Apple marketshare confirms.

            Correction, their products are too expensive for you, which is very different.

            Considering the marketshare of the iPod, it seems a lot of people agree with me.

            m-
          • by SethJohnson (112166) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @05:58PM (#12513969) Homepage Journal


            I like Apple, but their products are too expensive.

            Talk to an economist about the current pricing strategies at Apple. They'll tell you Apple is using smart pricing. If you are producing at 100% of your capacity and you are selling everything you make, then your MBAs will tell you that your prices are too low. Raise prices until sales drop to just below your peak production capacity.

            As proof, Apple created and dominated the hard-drive MP3 player market in short order with the iPod at the price they chose. Maybe you don't own one, but millions of other people do. You are in the margin of consumers who rejected their pricing and I think Apple is fine with that because this margin represents a smaller loss in potential profit than if they lowered prices to convert you to a customer and then those other millions of sales would have netted a smaller revenue. I know that was a monstorously run-on sentence-- please forgive my inability to communicate this concept. I'm listening to my iPod while I type this.

            seth
  • by geomon (78680) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:16PM (#12511428) Homepage Journal
    I guess that would also include all other forms of portable devices. Cigarette lighters replaced by cell phones, ink pens replaced by cell phones, watches replace by cell phones, etc.

    All powered by Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0.

    Has anyone ever done any reseach on how often Bill Gates has been right in his predictions?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:19PM (#12511513)
      Well, I am running 640k of RAM just fine, you insensitive clod!
    • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:25PM (#12511610) Homepage Journal
      Has anyone ever done any reseach on how often Bill Gates has been right in his predictions?

      I'm sure that at one time, he predicted that Microsoft would dominate the desktop computing market. It seems he made a few bucks off that, but hey, let's wait and see if it really catches on or it's just a fad.
      • by geomon (78680) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:36PM (#12511802) Homepage Journal
        I'm sure that at one time, he predicted that Microsoft would dominate the desktop computing market.

        I agree that Gates has done some great things in his time, but when I read articles that he has written over the years, I am struck by how often he has been dead wrong. The Microsoft Global Network vs. the internet is a case in point.

        It seems he made a few bucks off that,..

        So because he is rich that makes him right on everything he says? Probably not. Just as people who support gun ownership. They find his support for gun control to be way off base.

        Bill has done some great things, but prognostication isn't his strong suit.
        • My point is, you don't need a high percentage of "being right" to be very successful. Who cares how often his predictions come true? He's Bill Gates, not Nostradamus.

          Being very successful gets you access to the media, regardless of how often you are right.

          Gates is a very competitive guy, not unlike most successful businessmen.

          What did you really expect him to say? ipods will win? cell phones running linux will win? Can you say shareholder lawsuit? Even if you can't, Millberg Weiss can.
          • My point is, you don't need a high percentage of "being right" to be very successful. Who cares how often his predictions come true?

            The people who read his predictions, that's who.

            The point of this thread is not whether or not Bill Gates is successful. The point is whether or not he is right in his prediction that cell phones will overtake standalone DAPs for music playing. Lots of people assume that because he is successful, that his predictions carry some weight. And his predictions do carry some we
        • BillG's predictions (Score:4, Interesting)

          by nikster (462799) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @07:41PM (#12514664) Homepage
          People have been saying that Bill Gates' predictions are often way off. That is not so - you just have to interpret them in the right way.

          BillG does not make predictions in order to predict the future - he makes predictions to advance the fortunes of his company.
          If you look at his predictions from the point of view "What is the best thing i can say to advance Microsofts fortunes" you will see that he is 100% spot on there every time. His publicity helps Microsoft, which, in turn, bolsters his very own bank account.
          MSFT is up by 0.36% today, whereas AAPL is down over 4%. Go figure.
      • True, but he predicted that they would dominate the desktop computing market with OS/2 and the Microsoft Network.
    • Unlike lighters and pens, music devices and cellphones share most of their components - processor, battery, screen, memory, IO ports, and some buttons for input. In fact cell phones and portable music players are extremely close in purpose - to play sound into your ears.

      That doesn't mean Apple will be out of the business, they'll probably swing a deal with Nokia or something.

  • Moving target (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:16PM (#12511430) Homepage Journal
    What is it with you Bill Gates? Why do you always have to "beat" beat everybody? The history of Mr. Gates is filled with prognostications about how Microsoft with win this and win that and how competitors don't have any idea of what is happening. Rah, rah, rah! Certainly much of this is marketing, but I much prefer companies that just keep their heads down creating the next big thing and then announcing it to everyones surprise. Pre-announcing products by years only serves to generate expectations that more often than not are unmet. Longhorn is how far out of the initial expected delivery date?

    Now, as far as his bets on the future of the iPod, like just about everything else Apple has created and Microsoft has copied, the iPod is not stagnant. It's development is ongoing and dynamic, so Microsoft is going to have not not only copy, but out innovate a moving target.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:20PM (#12511535)
      They can see the end of Windows and Office steaming towards them from a mile off and they want to be able to step aside before it hits them hard.

    • Re:Moving target (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @04:22PM (#12513075) Homepage
      ... the iPod is not stagnant. It's development is ongoing and dynamic, so Microsoft is going to have not not only copy, but out innovate a moving target.

      Now, I think there's the real point. Maybe he's right that PDAs and MP3 players will eventually disappear, and in the end we'll have cell phones with PDA features and MP3 playback. Maybe the cameras in phones will become good enough that amateur point-and-shooters won't ever buy stand alone cameras again. And maybe it will be cheap enough that these phones will even be the free phones you get with a 2 year contract. In fact, I'm not sure "maybe" is quite right. I think all this will "probably" happen sooner or later. As tiny cameras, mp3 players, cell phones, and everything else get smaller and cheaper, we'll probably see more and more multifunction all-in-one type devices. So in that sense, yeah, Gates is probably right.

      Of course, pretty much everyone has been saying this for years and years on top of that. Wasn't the reason Steve Jobs didn't like the Newton was that he thought the functionality should just be built into cell-phones? (I remember reading something to that effect)

      So considering how blatantly obvious it is, who's to say that Apple won't get there first? I mean, that's the real question, isn't it, who will get there first? Will it be the phone companies building MP3 players into their phones, or will it be the MP3 companies building phones into their players, or will Palm release a hard-drive based version of the Trio?

      Well, Apple's already built some photo functionality into their iPod, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before we see a iPod/camera hybrid (I think so, anyway). Motorola is releasing an iTunes phone in a few months. Apple has address-book and calendar syncing in the iPod, and it's not hard to imagine essentially integrating the tech from an iPod shuffle into a cell-phone. So I don't know, I wouldn't count Apple out yet.

      So, I guess I'm saying that I don't think this is an issue of Bill Gates' vision of the future of technology being different that others'. It's solely an issue of who can put all the pieces of hardware together, write software that will run it in an easy and intuitive manner so people are comfortable with it, and put it all into a reasonably-priced physically-small package. It's anybody's game right now, but I'd certainly put Apple (either by itself or by partnering with another company) among the top contenders.

  • Maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dopelogik (862715) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:16PM (#12511431)
    Yea, and that cell phone will be made by Apple [powerpage.org]
  • What else would Gates be saying? "I don't think we can dent Apples monopoly, but we are releasing these ugly mobile just in case we are wrong..."? Dont think so!
  • And ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog&gmail,com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:16PM (#12511442) Homepage Journal
    ... in a related move, Sony announced today its complete confidence in the Betamax format. Film at 11.
  • Gates is right - in the end mobile communication devices will swallow the portable music niche, just as they have swallowed the PDA niche and are currently engulfing the photo niche. The advent of cheap annual/monthly subs like Yahoo's just-launched service, coupled with cross-platform availability (your car, your phone, your home, your work PC) means it will be inevitable. But they won;t all be running Windows!
  • It's coming. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by natrius (642724) * <niran@nir a n .org> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:17PM (#12511459) Homepage
    Yeah, it sounds a bit ridiculous, but think about it. People don't like carrying around multiple devices with them, and out of all the portable devices out there, the only one that has emerged as a necessity is the cellphone. These days, most cellphones you can buy have most of the features of the PDAs of yore. Listening to music is a fairly small feature to add to a device.

    If you look at Nokia's cell phones [nokiausa.com], about half of them have cameras. A few years ago, a camera phone would've been pretty rare. I think that's where things are heading with hard drive cell phones, and once you have a hard drive, playing music off of it is pretty simple. Sure, the iPod is fairly entrenched as of right now, but when people's iPods break, they'll already have a device that can play music, making another iPod purchase much less lucrative. As more iPods break than get replaced, these Windows Mobile phones will be waiting to take the MP3 player market away.
    • Re:It's coming? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:33PM (#12511745) Journal
      Actually, I was much more sure of this a few years ago than I am today. I say that because of 2 things.

      1. Cellphone service still hasn't really come down much in price. Years ago, everyone seemed to think the emergence of more competing services would bring monthly charges way down, but it hasn't really worked out like that. Anyone can buy themselves a music player or even a PDA and get lots of use out of it, out of the box, without subscribing to anything. Cellphones, on the other hand, are useless paperweights as soon as you stop paying for monthly service. You can argue that cellphones are much more of a "necessity" - but that really depends on who YOU are. For quite a few people, they're just a convenience - as they could wait until they got home or to work to make/return their calls.

      2. Cellphone makers have been horribly clueless in building a "convergence device" that really meets people's needs. Look at the latest "cream of the crop" PDA/camera/phones, for example. Take the Treo 650. Still so new, you can't even get on through many major carriers like Verizon, but if you do - you find out it's very fragile/breakable, not to mention still almost too large to carry around comfortably. Battery life could be better too, and as a portable music player, it doesn't hold a candle to something like even a first generation iPod. Meanwhile, like most all other camera phones, it takes lousy low-resolution photos. Where's the desirability in that??

      I think the truth is, cellphone makers are really only interested in one thing ... selling you expensive monthly service plans. The phones are just a means to an end for them, and you'll always see them crippling functionality if it allows them to charge extra for using a feature the way THEY want you to use it. Think "Jack of all trades, master of none." when you think "all in one cellphones". That's all you're gonna get.
    • Re:It's coming. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:35PM (#12511788) Homepage Journal
      Heh, but on the same token Nokia also tried to combine a portable game machine and failed miserably...twice. They just couldn't get the cell phone to be as good as the relatively primitive gameboy advance, and they had trouble cramming all that functionality into a still usable interface. Cell phones did cannibalize the PDA market, but I think that can be attributed to the fact that there was so much overlap. You are naturally going to want your contact info on your phone for when you call people. However is listening to music a function of your phone?
      It's all really going to come down to interface and battery life. If cell phone makers can cram all this functionality into phones without creating an unusable interface or sacraficing battery life then they may very well win the war. But it's really time to wait and see.
    • Re:It's coming. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Have Blue (616) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:41PM (#12511863) Homepage
      Don't count on it. You've forgotten the "lock-in" everyone here loves to complain about. By the time your iPod breaks down, all your music has been loaded into iTunes, possibly as AAC, and possibly "mined" with ITMS songs that can only be played on iPods. You can either shift your entire collection over to whatever jukebox program the phone requires you to use, and fix any metadata that doesn't survive the trip, and learn to use the completely new computer and phone interfaces, and generally go to a lot of trouble to migrate- or you can buy a new iPod, plug it in (the same way you're used to plugging in your old one), and wait a few minutes. Gates has gained a lot from "cost of migration" over the years, but now it's going to bite him in the ass.
    • Re:It's coming. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kenshin (43036)
      Sure, the iPod is fairly entrenched as of right now, but when people's iPods break, they'll already have a device that can play music, making another iPod purchase much less lucrative.

      Thing is, if my iPod breaks, I still have my phone. If my phone breaks, I still have my iPod.

      Intergration is fine... but the downside is that one failure can bring everything down.
    • Re:It's coming. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpecBear (769433) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:00PM (#12512101)
      Camera phones are popular because they're good enough for basic, casual stuff. They're cool for a lot of uses that would normally be covered by low end cameras, but people who really want to take pictures will buy a separate camera.

      Integrating music players into cell phones would, if well implemented, put a major dent in the market for low end MP3 players but probably wouldn't touch the iPod. People who buy iPods aren't looking for some freebie toss-it-in music player.

      And this assumes that the phone manufactures, wireless service providers, and Microsoft can all get together and form a business model that they can all agree on that doesn't completely turn off the consumers. If they overburden it with DRM, use limitations, limited song libraries, and per-use fees, then the iPod will continue to reign supreme. These are the same companies that want to charge you for each custom ringtone, SMS message, or picture transferred. How much will it cost me to load my CD collection into my own phone?
    • Re:It's coming. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mandomania (151423)
      When my camera brakes I don't go out and buy a camera phone: I buy another camera. If camera phones were as good as cameras, then I might consider buying a camera phone as a replacement. I imagine the same holds true for iPods. When my iPod breaks, I doubt I'll replace it with anything other than a new iPod.

      This is the crux of the convergence problem. Everyone wants something that does everything they could possibly want, but it must do it just as well as the standalone product and it must do it at or
  • Bill's 1/2 right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:17PM (#12511464) Homepage Journal
    I believe there is an excellent chance of the mp3 player and cell phone converging into a single device. There are about 1.7 billion cell phones in use today. That means all those people are already carrying around an electronic device. Give them somethign in the same form factor that also plays music and you've got a winner.

    As for the part about them all running Windows, let's just say that remains to be seen.
  • Ya know, this one time, Bill Gates said 640k should be enough memory for anyone. I bet I'm the only person who remembers that.
  • He might be right... (Score:5, Informative)

    by HuffMeister (608243) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:18PM (#12511476)
    If my windows mobile phone didn't continually crash. Every couple of days the Windows Mobile OS crashes and it won't recognize any button presses. This is particularly annoying as it usually happens when answering calls, and requires pulling the battery out to hard resetting the phone. I originally got the phone because everybody in my office was getting them, and so I didn't have much of a choice. I was skeptical about running Microsoft anything, but I thought, "Hey: Different OS, Different Codebase, maybe it won't be filled with bugs!" Boy, was I wrong!
  • I call bullshit. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tuxedo Jack (648130)
    While the idea that a cellular phone could perform the duties of an iPod seemns preposterous at first, I seem to recall some Taiwanese group made a rather large (1TB or so, if memory serves) flash chip a while back, and that could easily serve for music, videos, photos, and whatnot that requires storage on the machine.

    However, a phone will not replace the iPod, not unless it can run DRM-less media. Too many people know about DRM these days, and more and more people are avoiding it like the plague.

    Not only
  • News Flash! (Score:5, Funny)

    by smug_lisp_weenie (824771) * <cbarski.4503440@bloglines.com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:18PM (#12511486) Homepage
    Person Y says technology by company X won't last.

    Instead, person Y believes technology made by person Y's company will win long-term!
  • I'm shocked!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JoeLinux (20366) <joelinux@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:19PM (#12511503) Homepage
    I'll bet in his next prediction, he'll say that the internet is just a fad..er...wait...

    Ignore him...his predictions are merely him using corporate feelgoodspeak in order to try to convince MBAs to follow his product line.

    Picture him in a wizards hat and cloak, making dire predictions, selling the cure-all for those ails in his cloak. Kinda suspicious...
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:19PM (#12511509)
    Wonder why the iTunes phone isn't out yet?

    No carrier wants to touch it. Let people sync their *own* files with their *own* phone?? Unheard of!

    They want to charge $2 or more per song [businessweek.com] that you download to your phone. "Paying for convenience", as it were, or so they say...
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:20PM (#12511536)
    I won't be a fan of Ipods until the play my ogg files (until then, my Rio Karma will do just fine), but Bill Gate's is full of shit.

    The Ipod interface is excellent, and with manufacturers producing quad-channel-GSM cell-phones-on-a-chip, Apple is going to have a much easier time adding cell-phone functionality to an Ipod than Microsoft is ever going to have adding an equivelently easy-to-use and satisfying interface to their so-called smart-phones.

    I like my Motorola A700 PDA/Phone, but I don't use it to listen to music despite the fact that it is a capable MP3 player. The Ipod and Rio Karma are optimized for music playback--I've yet to see a cell phone that is so optimized without giving up PDA or cell-phone features to do it. I suspect Apple will be the first out with something that does just work, and it will probably be some variation of the Ipod.
  • Never happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David Horn (772985) <david@noSPAm.pocketgamer.org> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:21PM (#12511556) Homepage
    Microsoft has tried to do this already with the Smartphone. I have a C500 running Windows Mobile, with a 512MB Mini-SD card. I'm with him that soon we'll have mini hard disks in the phones.

    What I don't buy is that people will use it as an iPod replacement. Why? Because it's designed by committee. The headphone jack is on the bottom of the phone. It's 2.5mm so you have to carry around a bulky adaptor.

    The phone ships with Media Player 9 as default which sucks. You have to navigate to Media Player to change a song, and if someone rings you have to unplug the headphones. (I guess this wouldn't matter but they provide such shit ones with the one that you have to use your own.
  • Cellphone will beat iPod. iPod will beat PDA. PDA beats Cellphone.

    It's like "Rock Paper Scissors"

  • by jtotheh (229796) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:22PM (#12511574)
    Gates was saying everyone would switch to Tablet PCs a while ago. I think they had a thing called Passport that was supposed to be wildly successful as well. They're always pushing high powered high priced things in the portable/PDA universe. But sometimes something small and simple (and reliable) like an iPod mini is preferable. It does one thing and does it well.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:39PM (#12511836) Journal
    Gates coming out predicting the death of his competition. MS must be getting very nervous. Xbox 2 looking to be a disaster. Longhorn still a long year away (at least). Open source systems biting MS servers in the ass.

    As to Ipods, whatever Apple's flaws, the marketing of the IPod has been a marvel to see. Apple has managed to brand themselves, and I don't think MS is going to be bashing into that market as easily as they think.

  • by 8127972 (73495) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:47PM (#12511944)
    Apple and Motorola are working on a cell phone/iPod hybrid. However they're having a hard time getting carriers to sign on. Read about it here. [menafn.com]
  • by jurt1235 (834677) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:48PM (#12511962) Homepage
    People love the ipod not just of it looks, but also because of its userinterface. A mobile phone is already more complex, and I see people with blackberrys and stuff like that switch back to normal phones just because it is easier to use, and has less bloat. Devices like ipod will stay, just like that people like to buy appliances. Windows will go way out because of its everyway possible use, to big interfaces and tough to find programs.
    Disclaimer:
    Yes, I use an ipod, the interface could even be easier.
    Yes, I use windows, linux (kde) and OS X: They are all bloated. OS X certainly is not the easiest of the three when you want to find a program.
  • by Dynamoo (527749) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:54PM (#12512026) Homepage
    Microsoft have been trying for years (well, a few) to shift Windows on cellphones. And sure, there are some Windows cellphones out there.. but not a lot. Nokia doesn't have any. Sony Ericsson doesn't have any. Siemens doesn't have any (apart from a couple of badge engineered ones). Motorola and Samsung do have some Windows devices, but they're not exclusive and heck Motorola is even running with Linux on phones. And Motorola cancelled the MPx100 and MPx/MPx300 Windows devices before they got to market in the US and Europe.

    So who *is* actually building Windows phones in quantity? Well HP is.. a little tiny bit, but most of the world's Windows phones are manufacturerd by HTC [htc.com.tw] of Taiwan and then just rebadged. Sure.. HTC is doing well, and the HTC Universal [mobilegazette.com] certainly rocks.. when it eventually comes out. But for all the squillions that Microsoft has put into this project, they haven't seen an awful lot come out.

    Oh yes.. the iPod. Well, on one part we have these "jack of all trades" devices that have a so-so camera, music player, phone and PDA built into one. There's a market for "unified devices". There's also a market for focussed devices that are of a better quality. There's a market for both. Don't forget that Microsoft has been failing to kill off Apple for over twenty years too..

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:56PM (#12512055)
    While I agree that cellphones are sort of the logical target for convergence there are some huge obstacles to overcome. I agree that the iPod's days are numbered in its current form. I think many people would be very happy to just carry one device and a smartphone of some sort seems the ideal candidate. (Personally I prefer best of breed devices linked by Bluetooth but I think I'm in the minority there.) It's already an audio focused device and there are sufficient storage solutions. The main technical obstacles are battery life and a good user interface but those will be overcome in time I think. Of course the iPod is unlikely to remain in its current form unless Steve Jobs & Co have a collective stroke. But the real obstacles are not technical ones but market ones.

    Cell phones are not yet a commodity product the same way PCs are. There are at least 3-4 major operating systems, there is no dominant hardware platform, incompatible radio technologies, and the main buyers of cell phones (cellular providers) are far less fragmented and more powerful than any buyer of PCs. It's a very different market. The only way I can see a iPod-replacement-phone taking off is if it if the developer (Palm, MS, Motorola, Nokia, etc) can somehow get the carriers to fight each other for it.

    A huge problem with cell phones replacing the iPod is that there is almost zero financial incentive for the cellular providers (Cingular, Verizon, etc) to offer iPod/iTunes functionality on their networks unless they can make money off it. I don't see them being flexible enough to make that happen. They'll want a business like the ringtone business and they'll want it captive so you have to buy it from them. Witness Verizon with their disabled bluetooth functionality on one of their phones. They have no interest in services they can't charge for and are afraid of subsidizing development on a service one of their competitors will benefit from. One of the main reason's the iPod is successful is that you don't have to rely on any third party to use it. You can *choose* to use iTunes, etc but you aren't forced to. This is the exact opposite of how the carriers think.

    Another factor is that most phones are subsidized by the providers. Now it's possible someone might produce a device people are willing to buy without subsidizing but I think they can't charge much more than an iPod or Treo. People are obviously willing to carry devices that cost as much as $400-$500US (Treo, some iPods) but if the cost is more than that, I think you are getting outside the sweet spot and most want devices that are much cheaper. It's possible it could happen, I'm just dubious it will happen if the cellular providers have much say in the matter.
  • Cell Phones (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hyfe (641811) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:58PM (#12512074)
    Well.. it's late in the story, so I'll doubt this get read, however:


    I think the general consensus amoung you slashdotters here mainly stem from the fact that you're a little behind in cell-phone technology. Over here, cell phones are already starting to eat away at the portable music-player market (this is going strictly from what I see with my friends though, I doubt it'll turn up at market-analysises this soon).


    Good music playing phones already exist, and why shouldn't they? Playing music is simple, calling is simple, using sms is simple. There is no general purpose interface, and none of the generalization problems PDA's end up with.

  • by catdevnull (531283) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:58PM (#12512079)
    At some point in time, the iPod will fade into obscurity but I doubt it will be caused by anything Microsoft makes. They've got one point of domination--Windows and they have severe quality issues.

    Any emerging technologies out there for cell phones are going to have to consider several factors if they want to compete and beat the iPod as a music player (or if Apple wants to morph the iPod into a cell-phone):

    1) Battery life. With all the stuff these uberwidgets are doing, they are going to have to find a good, stable, non-explosive power source. The iPod or other music players have a dedicated purpose--if you multiply the purposes, multiply the power consumption (probably by an exponent). I'd rather have a separate music player than to chance losing all my juice in my phone.

    2) Portability--by that, I mean music can be moved from/to an iPod or computer to/from my new music phone easily. The interface has to be easy to use and it will have to be compatible the dominant music sources. Otherwise it's going to have hell catching up because re-inventing that wheel has not proven to be a match for iTMS. People won't switch products if it's not easy or they feel to heavily invested in or loyal to another product/service.

    3) Availability & Pricing. If you can't get one from or working with your provider, it doesn't matter how good the product works or doesn't. [Look how long it took the Treo to get ubiquitous support]. The price dictates availability, too. The market demographic for people who want music and cell phones may not have the disposable income to afford it if it's not priced right. (i.e., cheaper than a nice cell phone + an iPod).

    4) Fashion. MS's devices aren't ever as slick looking as Apple's--that will definitely be a factor in its appeal to both vendors and consumers. The "cool" factor enjoyed by the iPod is something Microsoft's money just can't buy. They'll have to compete in quality and design--two areas they don't do well in.
  • by imnoteddy (568836) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:59PM (#12512089)
    There's a review of the Samsung MM-A800 phone [nytimes.com] at the NY Times entitled "The Cellphone That Does Everything Imaginable, at Least Sort Of". He writes:

    The trouble is, all of these features saddle the poor little device with a complexity that will boggle even the veteran cell fan. You have to wade your way through a staggering 583 menu commands, along with far too many pointless "Are you sure?" confirmations, to find them all. Just looking up your own phone number requires eight button presses, for goodness' sake.

  • by jtrostel (235703) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:03PM (#12512146)
    Using 'PTunes' on my treo 600, I already bring 12 albums of music around and play them using an SD card... And I can play them on my desktop also if I want. As SD and other media get cheaper, this will get easier and easier. I also can listen to shoutcast streams. All that on a tiny little OS like Palm. Why should I worry about Windows on my handheld device when Palm works and will boot up in seconds.

    The second thing I noticed in the article was this quote:

    "The BlackBerry is great but we're bringing a new approach," he said. "With BlackBerry you need to link to a separate server, and that costs extra. With us, the e-mail function will already be part of the server software."

    With Chatter, I get IMAP email pushed in real time to my treo.No extra server needed here either, just a _standard_ IMAP server which supports IDLE, and my treo can get email pushed to it in the background.

  • He's Right... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afabbro (33948) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:04PM (#12512169) Homepage
    ...about cell phones, though not necessarily about "Windows Mobile". Most handheld electronic devices (PDAs, cell phones, music players, game players) will eventually consolidate, probably in some kind of modular architecture. Base unit + a card/chip for games, card/chip one for PDA, etc. A consumer tricorder.

    And he's right that Apple is not positioned for the long haul (ooooh, here come the Apple fanboys). Steve Jobs will be off to make some other neat, shiny thing.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:05PM (#12512179) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft's so predictable. Here's how this will go down: Microsoft will denounce the ipod and then release their own portable MP3 player, which will completely suck. They'll sell it at a loss while they continue to upgrade their features to the point where it can actually sell due to proprietary features in Windows that make it slightly easier to support than the ipod. Once they've stampped the ipod out, they'll raise the price of the device significantly and stop adding new features to it. Just like every other product they've ever made.

    I would think that once their competitors are aware of this strategy, they would counteract it simply by not resting in their laurels but instead developing cool new features for their devices so that Microsoft can never catch up to the point where their crappy device is good enough to compete. The biggest danger when competing with Microsoft is that you'll be lulled into a false sense of security by how shitty their revision 1 products inevitably are.

    Apple's already experienced this once at the hands of Microsoft -- Windows prior to 3.0 was a joke, 3.0 was just good enough to put a hurtin' on Apple and once Apple got smacked down Windows didn't change appreciably for well over a decade. Oh I know they had NT, but it's not like THAT was ever marketted at the home user.

  • Resist the Borg.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:12PM (#12512268)
    Mobile phones-- powered by none other than Windows Mobile 5.0, of course.

    Not on my side...

    I flat out refuse to use ANY M$ based product.

    Besides, I don't want all that crap. When I'm not at my desk, I'm doing something, driving, working, etc. I don't have time to screw around with a stupid device like this. Besides, I'm old and I can't deal with the "Nintendo thumbs" syndrome. I watched my kids operate those tiny little controllers and I hated the damn things. And doing that on a cell phone while I am trying to drive, that phone is going to get zinged out the window!

    I want a phone that I can call people on, has a totally dependable battery, has a large send and hang up button, that I F--king can SEE in daylight (I hate my V120T) and get's a good signal everywhere. Screw games, music and text messages, screw notes and all the other nerd-bling.

    I just want a phone that I can depend on when I need it and that everyone doesn't want to steal from me.

  • by KFury (19522) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:22PM (#12512388) Homepage
    Has anyone noticed that Bill Gates has been talking more and more about how much better Microsoft is going to be? Their old strategy was to produce better products, or buy or undercut their competition. Now that their opposition is better and not so easily bullied, Bill's new line is 'you think that thing's great? Well sure, but it's just a toy compared to what we're going to come out with."

    The trouble is that Gates assumes that everyone else is dumb and he's smart, so no matter what someone else has done, he can start with their ideas and improve upon it. He doesn't take into account that others are doing the same thing, and that by the time the MS version gets out the door the innovator has moved on.

    Witness:

    "Google kicked our butts, but we're working on something much better. It will be out before the end of the year"

    "The BlackBerry is great but we're bringing a new approach"

    "As good as Apple may be, I don't believe the success of the iPod is sustainable in the long run. You can make parallels with computers: Apple was very strong in this field before, with its Macintosh and its graphics user interface -- like the iPod today -- and then lost its position."

    At least some journalists are taking notice [macobserver.com]:
    "Speaking before a meeting of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, Mr. Gates took verbal shots at the Macintosh maker saying it was "great" that the general press was "writing about operating systems," but refused to respond to questions that Mac OS X Tiger came out earlier than Microsoft's next version of Windows with a number of features the software giant could only describe."
  • by NatteringNabob (829042) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:27PM (#12512461)
    People can't call you on your iPOD.Granted, I'm in the minority, but for me, the cell phone is a neccessary evil, not something I really want. By contrast, portable Music is desirable. In addition, cell phones tend to make really lousy music players. Heck, for the most part, they aren't even very good telephones. When it is on, my Motorola V220 (or whatever) cell phone will transmit nasty buzzing sounds to any speaker within a meter or so. Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but that isn't a feature I'm looking for in a music player. Of course, this seems to be unique to the Motorola. My old Ericson T28 didn't do this.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:29PM (#12512479) Homepage
    Today, you can buy a PDA / Cell Phone / Camera. Now I want to buy a PDA / Cell Phone / Camera / MP3 player. In 6 months, I will want a PDA / Cell Phone / Camera / MP3 player / Video game system. Then it will be a PDA / Cell Phone / Camera / MP3 player / Video game / Toaster.

    This isn't progress. PCs and TVs are popular partially because you can add new things on to them. But today, to add something to a cell phone requires buying a new cell phone. That aint cheap. Soon, we will need a standardized expandable cell phone so that we can add the drink mixer attachment easily without replacing the whole device.

    Until then, I won't waste $1000 to buy the ultimate integrated device, knowing I will need to throw it out very soon.
  • by Iron Chef Unix (582472) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:55PM (#12512772)
    What people seem to be forgetting is that service providers only want a phone with a music player if they can provide the music.

    Apple and Motorola have already had trouble finding takers for their iTunes capable phones because service providers want to sell music to the customer, rather than have them load it off of their computer. It doesn't gain them a whole lot if you can upload your own music.

    Plus they are selling crappy ringtones for $3 or more, so can you imagine what would happen if they sold whole songs? They would have to lower their profitable ringtone price point, or sell songs for an outrageous amount, and I'm guessing on the latter assuming they only let you buy music from them. (And probably charge you for the internet access that you will have to use to browse for songs)

    Service providers don't want you to have your own music. You hear people whine about iTunes music store, this would be Cingular Music store. $5 single songs at 64k that are DRM's to only your phone.

    And as for Bill Gates, he doesn't care about the music player. He wants you to get the phone for the music player and then be tied to microsoft products to sync it. And since you'll also have Word on your phone, you'll need it on your computer... Excel, Outlook, ... Not that there is anything wrong with this, but he is not in it for the music.
  • /sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768.comcast@net> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:58PM (#12512809) Journal
    Its hard enough to get a decent cellphone that IS A CELLPHONE. Unless they could make a good cellphone that has say the capacity of a iPod Shuffle without having the cellphone it's self EAT the capactiy but leave it just for my music, and still have a 20 hour battery charge and good reception and play back music clear, then its pointless..

    maybe eventually, but its likely Apple will be the one who developes it. Hell as it is RIGHT NOW Apples cellphone with Motorola is on hold cause they cant do that well.... Gates really does love to hit that pipe still huh?

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @04:43PM (#12513313) Journal
    The future of cellphones has already arrived, just not in the US. It certainly doesn't need Windows to make it work.

    As far as I could see the PDA has disappeared in Japan. I saw two or three people using them on the subway and that was it. I couldn't find any Palms or PocketPCs on sale, even in Akibahara. I did find a few 4Gb Sharp Zauruses and lots of ebook/edictionary things. But otherwise no PDAs.

    Phone use in Japan is unbelievable. Walking down the street you are faced with hordes of people all texting as they walk. Cellphones in use everywhere. Old people, young people, anyone. I have no idea what some of these people were doing. I assume they were all texting but when I looked over people's shoulders I often saw funky looking animations. It's clear that the convergence with the cellphone has already happened, at least in Japan.

    • I live in Japan, and you definitely don't need windows to get it right on a cel phone OS - I had a beautiful Sharp phone (SH-53) from Vodafone that had a built in digital music player, 1Mp Digital Camera, web browser, 3d games (a version of ridge racer, a 3d golf game, and that 3d puzzle game for ps1, IQ) and the interface was better than any windows OS I've used - I can just imagine - MS trying to squeeze a Start button on the bottom left hand screen of everyone's phones...

      My latest phone isn't as fancy (

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