Gadget lovers could find that their mobile phone fulfils all their needs in the very near future.
So says David Levin, head of phone software firm Symbian, reviewing the firm’s future prospects.
He said the falling cost of putting extras, such as cameras, into handsets would mean big changes for the consumer electronics market.
But, he added, it would take time for consumers to start using all the features in their increasingly smart phones and perhaps longer for operators to work out ways to generate significant amounts of cash from new services.
Mr Levin said makers of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and digital cameras were likely to suffer as phones became more powerful.
“The PDA is dead,” Mr Levin said.
He asked why anyone would opt for an expensive, bulky handheld computer when smartphones like the SonyEricsson P800 were now available for about £200.
He said the P800 and many others like it had onboard all the programs, such as e-mail, address book and calendar, which many people used to look for in a PDA.
And, he said, makers of digital cameras could also be in for a shock.
“At some point in the next six-nine months there will be more digital cameras sold on mobiles than stand alone,” said Mr Levin.
Already 70-80% of phones sold in Asia have a camera on-board and Europeans look like they will follow this lead.
Figures revealed by analysts Gartner reveal that the arrival of camera phones has boosted handset sales.
According to Gartner, during the second three months of 2003 total phone sales were 114.9 million units, 12% higher than the same period in 2002 and 2% up on the first three months of this year.
Mr Levin said the cost of adding extra functions to phones was falling all the time. As a result, he said, phones might become the camera, games machine, music player and radio that many people turn to first.
But, he said, the killer application for mobile operators for the near future was likely to be voice calls.
It was going to take time for people to use all the functions they find in their handset, he said.
“We need to appreciate that human behaviour evolves and we cannot just announce a technology and have mass adoption,” he said, “some things will hit quicker than others.”
Many experts had under-estimated how long consumers took to adopt and adapt to new technologies and ways of doing things, said Mr Levin.
The fact that it was taking longer than originally thought for consumers to use their phones for more than talking was also leading some experts to under-estimate the long-term prospects for phone firms.
Mr Levin said Symbian would do well out of the growing sales of smartphones.
In the first six months of 2003 there were 10 Symbian-based phones on sale around the world produced by three licensees of the software maker’s operating system. During those six months more than 2.68 million Symbian devices were sold.
Currently under development, said Mr Levin, were 26 phones by nine licensees. One of the new firms to sign up for Symbian was BenQ, the leading maker of mobiles in Taiwan.
Symbian as a company would break even when 20 million handsets using its software were sold per year, he said.