In this waning night of 2017, the Pocketnow editorial wanted to take a dive into the topics and things that already died or look likely to die soon as a result of events that have occurred this year.
I’ve asked our team to submit their own obituaries. As Jaime Rivera is actually taking a vacation as opposed to working, he has not sent an entry. Otherwise, the following testimony is displayed in the order it has been received.
In lieu of more wistful prelude, let’s dive right in:
Windows 10 Mobile: This death has been well documented, much debated and long mourned, making me as sad as the next fan… who used to own a near-flawless Lumia 520 back when he couldn’t afford a muscle phone. With Microsoft’s always-doomed mobile platform, choice and diversity also died, as many years will need to pass before anyone else gathers the courage to threaten the smartphone OS duopoly.
Small phones: Personally, I am more saddened by this extinction. Like Windows Phone, we all saw this coming, but I refused to believe it was game over until Apple “forgot” to upgrade the iPhone SE and Samsung left its third consecutive Galaxy S generation without a diminutive variant. Is it really too much to ask for a decent slab of silicon that can fit one “normal”-sized hand with minimal effort? Something like the Xperia XZ1 Compact, but, you know, less ugly. Like the Pixel 2, but still a little smaller. Better than the iPhone SE, though. After all, what good are razor-thin bezels if they don’t make all these hot and trendy 18:9 phones easier to handle? I’m almost tempted to buy the revived Nokia 3310 just to send the industry heavyweights a message.
Anton D. Nagy
The QWERTY keyboard: if anything, it will be a second death. TCL brought it back on the BlackBerry KEYone, a nostalgia phone for enthusiasts and a more recent and up-to date — specs-wise — device that will probably be the last one of its breed. We’ve learned to move on from physical keyboards to soft input panels and on-screen keys; we actually did it so well — because we had to — that we’re now typing faster on the screen than with buttons. Sad, but true.
Home button: with Apple being among the first ones to remove it, many will follow, and, even if it’s not dead “for real” just yet, I think 2017 marks the demise of the home button as we know it.
Headphone jack: again, not really dead yet, but the process has started. Juan will speak more to this.
The bezel: just like the second and third points, the dying process is well underway and we’re moving closer and closer to all-screen/no bezel devices. First with the flagships, then mid-rangers will follow, but I think that the bezel is on its way out.
Juan Carlos Bagnell
I’ll keep mine short and sweet. I’m not a fan of companies removing the built-in headphone jack on phones.
Audio is a key component to the mobile lifestyle experience, and as we depend on our pocket computers more and more every day, removing a truly universal standard is simply bad form. The solution of “just buy more expensive USB or Bluetooth headphones” reeks of a Marie Antoinette-style response. I already own great headphones and earbuds. I don’t want to have to use dongles which will have to be replaced when I lose them, and can’t be easily replaced when I travel. I don’t like “fixing” things that weren’t broken.
Adam Z. Lein
I’m pretty disappointed in the shutting down of Groove Music, which used to be Xbox Music, on Windows Phone 7/8 and before that was the Zune Pass.
Groove Music was great since it matched my entire library with cloud-based music that I could stream from any Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, Android, or iOS device. It also had plenty of playlists and the ability to selectively stream any song or album that was in the online store (except for certain publishers that put restrictions on certain things). I could walk into the living room, say, “Hey Cortana, play music” and the Xbox would start playing some music along with showing music videos for songs that had video counterparts. It was really great. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as good as what the Zune Pass offered back in 2010 with huge, awesome music discovery features, plus those 10 MP3s to keep per month.
Anyway, Microsoft’s Groove Music service was shut down at the end of 2017 and subscribers were encouraged to switch to Spotify, which isn’t nearly as good as Zune once was. In fact, transferring my Groove library to Spotify actually lost a lot of music because Spotify only supports 10,000 songs per account where as my actual library has about 30,000. So that’s a huge loss.
I’m really not happy about Sprint and T-Mobile not merging. While both of them have made waves in the United States cellular market on their own, I was looking forward to the shaking and storm surge from a combination of the two in terms of a more robust network that would require less capital expenditure and increased pressure to AT&T and Verizon from an expanded user base — while still third place, 130-plus million subscribers form a more intimidating sword.
I am not afraid to say that an entity controlled by Deutsche Telekom with John Legere as CEO would have been better for competition.
Analysts are now saying that as Sprint, the cut-rate carrier around these parts is investing for the big upgrade to 5G, it will be forced to cut down its promotions on service rates. We will likely see deals on phones and ancillary services like AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW and Verizon’s go90. Even T-Mobile and Sprint have gone with ties with Netflix and Hulu, respectively. Pricing will gradually rise from the bottom end and AT&T and Verizon, reading into this, will have more room and options to increase service rates as well.
This is one of the few situations where more competition may end up costing more to the consumer. Whether what they get in return — mediocre LTE, music that won’t be listened to and boring programs that will go unwatched — will be deemed worthwhile is left for 2018 to reveal.
Tomorrow, we’ll have the team’s outlook on the top trends in mobile technology in 2018. In the meantime, you can pour one out for your favorite demise of yesteryear in our comments!