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January 6, 2010

How much choice do we need?

Fork-in-roadGLOBAL – We’re in Las Vegas for CES 2010, the city of dreams and where there is no shortage of stuff to do. In fact, one of the hardest things about spending time in this city is choosing what to do next. That got me thinking, how much choice do we really need when it comes to devices? We’ve already heard Nokia’s intentions this year to reduce the number of smartphones on offer (by half) so it looks like we’ll soon have fewer devices to choose from. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

It certainly makes a lot of sense to me, for a number of reasons. Firstly, from a device creation point of view, having more people working on fewer devices would suggest the end result would be even better than we’re used to. Add to that the ability to constantly update the device with improved software, new applications and the addition of services – all stuff we can do right now and the hardware itself starts to matter less in my book.

So choice then takes on a different meaning. Right now we can choose from a wide range of Nseries devices, depending on our particular need. But as technology proliferates through the range (and into lower end handsets), increasingly there’s less to separate one device from another. How many Nseries devices do we actually need?

Step back from Nseries and the choice takes on a different meaning again, where we’re deciding between, perhaps, a touchscreen device and a QWERTY device. Myself and Mike were earlier talking about the E71 and E72 and it made me wonder, do we need more than one business device? Given how near damn perfect the E71 is (and now the E72), is there really a need for an alternative? Would it be such a bad thing if there was only one business device to choose from?

Back in 2008, I listened to the Nokia design team talked about the future and the possibility of a device that we might have for a lifetime. That in part is taking the concept a little bit far (possibly), but given that improvements come not through hardware, but software, it’s not totally unreasonable.

Back to the headline and the question of how much choice do we really need? One device might be a bit limiting, but do we really need many more than that?

Photo by y_i