Friday, September 10, 2004

Next Big Thing: Gigabyte Drive on Your Cellphone

After spending 11 years on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and doing research on the wards, I always felt that physicians would only use a cellphone/PDA combination in the long run. I had nurses using tablets and syncing to PDP11s in 1976! Average time from research results to medical practice is 17 years and counting in healthcare.

We are beginning to see signs of convergence that will fuel adoption. Simultaneous cellular/802.11 capability is essential. I've been working with Cingular, Sprint, ATT, and others on business development relationships (as well as Microsoft and Intel) and hammering on this requirement. Docs have to switch to 802.11 data transfer and VOIP when then walk into the hospital and need to be on the cellular network on the golf course. You can bet that a lot of medicine will be practiced on the golf course in the future.

Here we see gigabyte drives start to appear on the cellphone.

Is That a Hard Drive in Your Pocket?
MIT Technology Review
By Eric Hellweg, September 10, 2004

Where were you on Tuesday, September 7? Struggling to get back to work mode after a three-day weekend? If so, then it’s understandable if you missed the small announcement issued by Samsung on that date. The two-paragraph press release seemed innocuous enough, but its ramifications will likely be felt around the world. The company proclaimed that it was releasing the world’s first cell phone with a hard drive.

The SPH-V5400 model phone, which will debut in Korea next week, comes equipped with a postage-stamp-sized hard drive storing 1.5 gigabytes. That's a massive increase in capacity over the flash memory that most cell phones ship with today. The new phone also features a one-megapixel digital camera, a high-resolution, 5.6-centimeter liquid crystal display, a software-based MP3 player, e-book software, and Korean-English dictionary software. The device will sell for the equivalent of $800.

So what’s the big deal? The technology industry works under the maxim, build it and they will come. Build faster processors, and the applications taking advantage of the speed will arrive. Build more storage and the industry will find ways to fill it. Up until now, cell phones have made do with storage capacities that are tiny by today’s standards. Most cell phones max out around 100 megabytes, while home computers ship with 40, 60, 80, or 100 gigabyte drives. A cell phone sporting 1.5 gigabytes suddenly opens itself up to more data possibilities, and begins encroaching even more into the domain of portable music player and PDAs.

Now couple the possibilities that arise from bigger storage with the fact that the cell phone is one of those rare devices that people need no convincing to own. In fact, they’re willing to put up with coverage that’s frankly subpar in many cases just to be reachable. So you have a device that people truly want, is getting a massive storage upgrade, and is serviced by networks that desperately want to increase their data traffic revenues and take advantage of their expensive high-speed networks. That's pretty compelling.


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