PDA's, MP3 Players and Cell Phones Converge

All of this is going to lead to the point where there’s no real line between your mobile phone and your PDA, or your MP3 player. Motorola has introduced a phone, the much-heralded Rokr, that runs Apple’s iTunes while Sony Ericsson already has MP3 phones on the market which can hold up to 1500 songs. Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone maker, will be introducing music-playing handsets early in 2006, once of which, the N91, is said to be able to store 3000 tracks – and, of course, these play in stereo. Some sets even include an FM radio.

Of course, with a phone you have a screen in front on you. Yes, you can take pictures and make them wallpapers, but that’s not even scratching the surface of the phone’s possibilities.

In America, MobiTV pioneered the idea of real-time television on your cell phone with a service that’s now available from both Sprint and Cingular (Verizon offers it own service called vCast, which, according to some reports isn’t real-time). But it won’t be long before you’ll be able to access all the networks and maybe even cable channels on your phone. That’s the beauty of 3G. Its fast connections make possible these early steps into what will become commonplace, where the pictures change frames with a much faster speed. It’s a huge market. One British research firm predicts that in five years, some 125 million people will be watching TV on their mobiles. By then phones should have, according to scientists, one megabyte per second access – about four times the speed of most U.S. home broadband services – or higher, and several gigabytes of memory. Additionally, manufacturers say screens will be larger and there will also be removable memory, the “smart cards” so familiar to any digicam user – it’s already possible to put a 2GB memory stick into some of the newer phones. And with Bluetooth wireless technology which continues to evolve at a rapid pace, you’ll be able to synchronize your phone with your PC.

Games are already a big deal on mobiles, but with 3G you’ll be able to play against someone on the opposite coast just as you might online, with real-time action and much improved 3-D graphics for example. Although Sony’s new PSP is trying to position itself as the choice of gamers worldwide, with its wireless Internet access (and ability to download content – once much content becomes available for the PSP, that is), it’s likely to face some very serious competition from phones.

And much of this is happening even as you read. America is hot on the heels of the rest of the world in adopting new mobile technologies. 3G networks are arriving all over the U.S., and by the end of 2006 all of the major services should have 3G available, although you will need a 3G phone to be able to access all the services. But soon they’ll be about the only option – unless you choose to be a dinosaur and keep your old handset.