The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife

For years, we’ve talked about the cellphone as the swiss army knife.

And I’ve found the analogy

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to be really on-target. I’ve told the story many times about how I used to (pre-9/11) always carry a small knife in my pocket that had a small pair of scissors and a tiny screw driver. There were times when I found myself trying to demo the latest telecom applications at a customer site or a trade show and I’d use those scissors to strip a wire and the screw driver to lock down a connection. (Scary, I know…)

But, in reality, those scissors and that tiny screw driver were a poor excuse for real tools. They were incredibly valuable because I had them with me, but given my druthers, I’d rather use a real stripping tool or real screw driver.

Cellphones have been the same way. You can use your cellphone as a camera. You can use your cellphone to watch TV or movies. You can use them as an eReader. You can use your cellphone as a navigation device. And your cellphone is incredibly valuable for those purposes (relative to its quality at each) because it is always with you. (That’s a big part of McGuire’s Law of Mobility, by the way…)

But in reality, given the choice, most people would rather use a “real” camera, a “real” TV, a “real” book or eReader, or a “real” navigation device.

The EVO 4G is the first phone that really changes that reality. Its true broadband connectivity, high powered processor, 8MP camera, huge screen, and HDMI output make it truly competitive as a “real” product in each of those categories. Add in stereo Bluetooth, 720p video recording, an additional front facing camera for video chatting, hot spot capability, a digital compass, and all the applications in the Android marketplace, and suddenly the EVO becomes the ultimate “swiss army knife” capable of credibly replacing a broad range of products.


One Response to “The Ultimate Swiss Army Knife”

  1. David Cordeiro says:

    This is a great illustration of Christensen’ theories of Disruptive Innovation. Disruptive innovation doesn’t initially try to compete against the established, specialized solution, e.g., first generation phone cameras versus dedicated digital cameras. Rather they compete against non-consumption, e.g., having no scissors or camera handy at all.

    Thanks to the power of sustaining innovation, however, it is only a matter of time before that low mega pixel camera on the phone that was “just good enough” begins to eclipse and displace the functionality of the specialized appliance.

    Now if only it was running WebOS… :-)

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