Are Multipurpose Devices Better Than Products That Perform One Function?

Some of the hottest consumer products continue to be Web-connected multipurpose devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Since the advent of the app store, there seems to be no limit to what these gadgets can do. Nothing is just a phone, a camera or a television anymore. From the WSJ:

Arguing for multi-purpose devices, Berkowitz writes:

It’s true that my GPS-enabled camera takes better pictures than my smartphone, and can tell me they were taken in California. But learning to share the pictures with friends takes more effort than it is worth. In the new marketplace, devices people can’t master in five minutes will result in a lot of returned items, which very quickly makes a product unprofitable.

Multipurpose devices offer other financial edges for manufacturers and consumers. A consumer would have to buy 10 different devices to reproduce the most popular functions in a single smartphone or tablet. Smartphones and other multipurpose devices are produced in high volumes, too, which in turn drives manufacturer costs and consumer prices lower.

Saffer writes an opposing view:

It’s not just professionals who care about quality, either. Yes, the speaker on a phone is good enough to listen to a song in a pinch. But to really enjoy the music, even your multipurpose device must be supplemented with a product like the brilliant Jambox, designed to play music loudly and well.

Makers of multipurpose devices are mostly unwilling to spend tens (and sometimes hundreds) of dollars per unit for each feature to be as good as those delivered by a high-quality single-purpose device; especially when it would add weight or heat, or eat up battery power.

More here. Via.