The Dawn of the All-in-One Age

Whatever you do for a living, choosing the right tool for the job can often mean the difference between success and failure. It matters as much for surgeons and rocket scientists as it does for carpenters and stonemasons.

But in an age where even the most basic tools need a differentiated feature set to stand out from the crowd and attract consumers’ attention, making the all-too-critical choice is becoming more difficult. Formerly simple solutions are morphing into agglomerations of often disparate capability as vendors pile on the features in an ongoing effort to remain competitive. Against this chaotic backdrop, stand-alone tools may not be with us for too much longer.

Consider:

  • Global sales of basic cell phone handsets that are primarily used for voice calls and little else — now known as “feature phones” — are falling as smart phones grow in popularity. In the U.K., research by O2 indicates 70 percent of small businesses are buying converged devices to replace existing handsets.
  • The typical small office or home printer has evolved into an all-in-one device that can also scan, copy and fax. Our local big-box electronics retailer stopped selling low-end inkjet printers earlier this year.
  • Pocket devices of all types — including iPods and portable game systems like Nintendo’s DSi — are sprouting integrated cameras or videocams.
  • It’s becoming difficult to find any device that does not also incorporate wireless capability. The Wi-Fi Alliance and In-Stat WiFi report 2008 sales of Wi-Fi chipsets jumped 26 percent in…

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