Goodbye, iPod; Hello, Portable Computer

Single-purpose devices' days are numbered: Manjoo
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2009 5:32 PM CDT
Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about the new iPod Nano at an Apple event in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – After yesterday's announcement that the iPod Nano now has a video camera, Apple's future direction is clear, writes Farhad Manjoo for Slate. Eventually, every iPod will be what Steve Jobs calls a “general-purpose device,” aka a small computer—a music player/phone/camera/web browser/GPS. Sure, Apple still sells dedicated music players. But its runaway hit is the multipurpose iPhone, the App Store is its most popular feature, and "tech is always getting cheaper and smaller," Manjoo observes.

Some critics decry what they call “feature creep,” but the trend has repeated throughout the history of computing. The portable word processor of yesteryear now looks like a joke, and it's probably about as funny as a dedicated MP3 player or eBook reader will be in 20 years. Writes Manjoo: "If you pile on features in an elegant way—if you keep the interface comprehensible and make sure the parts work well together—then feature creep becomes feature nirvana."