Device Customization: The Thing Of The Past!
Remember the time when there used to be no mobile phones. When having a laptop was more scarce than having a car. It was the time of the PC. Personal computers that defined how we perceived technology.
A huge CRT Screen attached to a huge cuboid that had a processor inside it with less power than your current smart phone; probably less powerful than even your first smart phone. A mouse with a ball inside!
The time also had something that we can see depleting fast: customization.
I recently watched (again) a movie called “Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year”. The movie is about a salesman who is selling customized PCs. That got me thinking: where are these companies now? And what are they selling?
The market for PC has shrunk vastly. Few people (hardcore gamers, artists, programmers etc.) are using a PC (and here I mean a desktop PC) these days. Even the one who use it (except for gamers) might prefer to use an iMac instead of a Windows PC. This means minimal or no customization.
With most laptops now coming with graphic cards inbuilt many games can be played on laptops as well. And with the constant use of mobile phones, we have adapted to smaller screens better than we care to admit.
These new gadgets are getting rigid in their customization with each iteration. Let’s take a look at them.
As we are shifting towards a laptop centric arena, fewer products can be replaced. While RAM can still be replaced to get a bigger one, you are stuck with the processor. Also, the number of slots for RAM is fixed, which means that if you are having a 2-slot motherboard, you are stuck with 8 GB max (unless we are talking increasing expenses exponentially obviously).
Compare this with the PC of the old. Everything was modular.
You want to change just the motherboard: Done.
You have sufficient RAM but the processor is bottleneck, change the thing while keep the old RAM.
CRTs are out while TFTs are in: Time to change just one thing. Suddenly have a whim for gaming: Add a graphics card, your PC is fine otherwise.
These are the differences in laptops and PCs. With mobiles and tablets, a even farther leap has been taken in lack of customization.
Mobile Phones / Smartphones
When Galaxy S3 was launched (or many of the previous smartphones), guess what one of its features was? Removable batteries!
I think this alone explains everything. And mind you, the reason for this is not something sophisticated like water-resistant devices. In the word of companies, it lets them make the device (1mm) thinner.
This is Hogwash in my opinion. Especially for Androids!
While Apple has traditionally never let the users tinker with its products much (especially in their second coming) Android is built on openness.
While the idea obviously let’s people to choose from a variety of devices, we are slowly moving to lack of customization.
Check out all the high-end devices by all manufacturers. Rarely any of them have any scope of opening the device. Many do not even have external storage option: Including the Nexus, the phone that is supposed to define Android.
For all my love for it (and I indeed am in love with my Nexus 4), this is glaring that I cannot change my phone’s battery to something stronger or my phone’s memory is stuck at 16 GB.
The only reason in my opinion to make a device unopenable (soon-to-be-added-in-dictionary) is, if you know the device is going in blast itself if this is done or you are making a phone water-proof and do not know any other way except sealing everything.
While most people do not think over modularity as much, they also do not realize that if phones could be made modular, the only time you would be changing your phone would be when you change your phone’s screen. While the price of the initial handset might be more than what is currently on offer (might!), over a period of time, it would be cheaper to own this handset than the current yearly changing of the phones.
In fact I would go as far in saying that the reason we see these fast technological advancements in mobile fields are because you can’t just imbibe what you like but have to change the device to get these advancements. This is an idea for a company.
If it can find a way to customize a phone (even a few options like memory, RAM, processor and screen size) it would give the users a freedom that they will like, fewer waste products by the company in the market and an edge no other company has.
Who knows, probably this is the thing that PC companies can do to change the mobile game as I mentioned in one of my previous articles.