The Death Dance of the Deluded Devices | MinOnline (the consumer – not content, not tech – is king)

I have written for new-media and technology publications for 15 years, and the hundreds of device reviews have taught me one thing: most of these gadgets were aimed at solving a problem for the publishers, not for the consumer. Every one of these device manufacturers tried to rationalize their existence by throwing great content onto them, and consumers showed no interest. The content was already available in a more convenient, less costly form elsewhere. They already had print. They had a PC. And now they have a cell phone. Case closed. They were solutions looking for problems.

Steve Smith goes on to say:

“And while I am being brutally honest, let’s be clear about how the phone and laptop worked their way into our routines: It had nothing to do with your content. Cell phones are now and always have been about person-to-person connectivity, first and foremost. Content is an attractive new feature that is growing in use. It is not the reason to buy a phone. Likewise, laptops were about portable productivity and connectivity, again, mainly person-to-person.

I mention these uncomfortable facts to underscore a key point about the delusions surrounding the relentless parade of failed dedicated media reading devices. People are not (at least not enough of them to matter) going to carry around another device for the principle purpose of making publishers’ business models work.

In-between gadgets generally don’t work because the two dominant ones in the market (laptops and phones) eventually enlarge their embrace to eliminate the niche. Smartphones have the form factor and screen resolution of credible reading devices now. Laptops remain infinitely more versatile than any Tablet, eReader or UMPC, and a class of netbooks match eReaders for portability.

… Publishers are the ones clamoring for a new digital platform that makes their content look like print but behave like the Web. Consumers already have it. Actually, they have two of them.”

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