Could IBM's Millipede mean the end of dedicated PDAs and MP3 players for good?

Could IBM's Millipede mean the end of dedicated PDAs and MP3 players for good?

Summary: Quite frankly, I'm ready to ditch the idea of owning a PDA or an MP3 player. After all, my phone (the one that's irradiating me as I sit here and write) goes everywhere with me and the only reason it doesn't function as my full-time PDA or MP3 player (or digital camera for that matter) is that it doesn't have the memory to host everything I'd want to stick on it (contacts, notes, music, podcasts, documents, e-mail, etc.

TOPICS: Mobility
Quite frankly, I'm ready to ditch the idea of owning a PDA or an MP3 player. After all, my phone (the one that's irradiating me as I sit here and write) goes everywhere with me and the only reason it doesn't function as my full-time PDA or MP3 player (or digital camera for that matter) is that it doesn't have the memory to host everything I'd want to stick on it (contacts, notes, music, podcasts, documents, e-mail, etc.). I can't be alone in this thinking. Just today, news came out that there are at least 179,999,999 cell phone radiation absorbing souls in the U.S., in addition to me. Sure, as every year goes by, it feels like they (the proverbial "they" that is) are able to squeeze another order of magnitude of memory onto a Secure Digital (SD) or Compact Flash (CF) card. But those leaps in capacity have never been the sort of breakthrough increments that could turn an SD- or CF-sporting cell phone into a mean lean storage machine. And so, even when we have a gig of memory on our phones (thanks to an expansion slot), we take extra special care as to what goes into that memory. Bottom line? So far, there isn't a Treo or a PocketPC phone that rivals the iPod.

Perhaps IBM's Millipede will change that. According to a report by ZDNet UK's Dan Illet, IBM dazzled CeBIT attendees with a demonstration of the new MEMS-based storage technology that can fit 1 terabit of data per square inch, which nets out to the capacity of 25 DVDs fitting in an area

Topic: Mobility

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  • No thanks

    100+ GB on a device that can be remotely accessed? Sorry, no thanks. I'll stick with my luddite seperate devices.
  • Don't Call me PHONE anymore !!!!

    Dear David,
    You are one of the most influent tech journalist on the web, so you will certainly have the Tribune position to forward this message :
    This kind of multi-functions "cigarette box" sized digital objects ARE NOT PHONES ANYMORE !!

    Yes, they have brought in the "Individualized" and "Pervasive" attributes from Mobile Phones BUT their direct ancestors are Mainframe then MiniComputer then Personal Computer !!

    The great future will be the next generations beyond Sony Type U and OQO that will BREAK the Screen and BE able to Shrink ALL THE PC POWER YOU REALLY NEED in a Ultra-miniaturized form factor You Wear pervasively...

    As with all the REVOLUTIONS, you will always have people to use bulky desktop PC as some old boys still use Mainframes !
    But The move is launched !!

    Fuel Cells, Millipede Storage, Mobile IBM's "The Cell" will complete the hardware side. BUT we need a new design for Software just as AIX was not the dominant player in PC !!
    AND We need to INVENT a NEW CONCEPT NAME to point to it : I personnally like The term "Symbiotic Computer"

    What will be YOURS ??????
    • Here here!

      I agree. There was a very simliar piece on Anchor Desk recently saying that cell phone would kill of PDAs and MP3 players and I found it just as silly.

      I don't get the cell phone bias. If you bring out a device the combines the features off all three, how is that a cell phone that killed the other two. It is a hybrid device.

      Is a piece of home entertainment equipment that combines a TV and a DVD player a DVD player that's killing off TVs or a TV that's killing of DVD players? No, it's just a hybrid unit.

      I think multi form factors will survive. Many people will want something small, like modern cell phones. I want the somewhat larger form factor of a PDA because I use them heavily for reading things and so I like the larger screen. In fact, I am just about to get a Pocket PC with builtin cell phone, and a builtin digital camera to boot.

      I do agree with David that PDAs aren't as nice to use for music as iPods are, but cell phones are even worse, and lots of storage won't change that. That's a matter of ergonomics and user interface design.
      • I get it

        One could make the argument that if we really have hybrid phone/pda/mp3 devices that it IS the phone that's killing off the other two as separate entities. I say this simply because device availability will be driven almost solely by the mobile carriers. It's doubtful you'll be able to buy them without a voice/data plan activated, thus they'll be categorized as a phone, or at least a mobile communication/media device.

        As far as reading things go...have you tried reading on the latest PPC's with BlackBerry built-in? I saw a demo a week ago that had a BlackBerry-sized PocketPC with BB under the covers pushing/pulling email to/from the device plus all of the PPC features we've come to love and expect as well as a built in phone. A Bluetooth headset is a must with that formfactor, tho! :)
  • this is great stuff but not sure at all it will kill dedicated devices

    Millipede sounds great and if it can be made well and at a price I
    am sure it will be a hit, but I am completely unsure that multiple
    combined devices will take over. The reason is that already the
    key thing consumers say about why they do not adopt CE
    devices is complexity. This is why I think dedicated devices for
    services like music will keep the major share of things. Sure
    some people will like combined devices for a variety of reasons
    we can all state, but many more won't see the synergy
    overcoming the ease of use. PDA and phone functions combine
    because despite feature creep the main use of them has always
    been address and contact related and that is really a phone
    function anyway. We always had a phonebook with a phone. That
    is not the case with music and to some extent cameras etc. This
    is why even though you can combine, I am convinced that will
    only take a share and in many cases just a small slice of some
  • IBM's Millipede

    It appears that everytime a new leap forward in technology is made, there are those who challenge its ability to fit into the current way that we work and play. It is not supposed to "fit in". That is the whole point of new technology. It reinvents what we do, and how we do it. Of course there will be challenges and issues with security, but they will be far outweighed by the benfits gained.
    The actual direction to which we find this put to use may be something we have yet to see. There are always those with ideas that the rest of us cannot imagine. Those new ideas may end the life of PDAs and MP3 players. It may even end or alter cell phones into something we no longer recognize.
    Quite frankly, I am excited by all this newfangled stuff. Although our lives seem to be changing daily, I have yet to see mankind suffer in any significant way. In fact, it appears to me to be the opposite.
    I know that many of you will disagree, and that is fine. All I ask is that you look to the benefits of what is being created. The barriers, issues, and problems that are born will be solved. It may take some time, but we can and will invent solutions that fit the new inventions themselves. I can't wait!
  • Millipede Killer

    You guys, where have you been hiding? Doesn't history mean anything to you?
    Millipede is bound to fail - because it's from IBM. I trust that the combined efforts by IBM manufacturing, marketing and legal departments will kill the product. Let's see; proprietary format, premium price for IBM logo, absurd complex licensing, and so on (if I could figure them all out I'd be working for IBM!)
    I'm betting on IBM's competition to provide the mass-market solution.
    • Like it or not IBM is responsible ...

      ... for most of the mass-market technology we enjoy today. IBM is still the largest IT firm in the world. IBM made it possible for the PC to be predominate instead of an Apple platform -- for Bill Gates to be the richest man in the world instead of Steven Jobs -- and for Windows to be the predominate OS, not Linux or Mac OS X.

      IBM is not longer in the PC business because they do not WANT to be in that business! There simply is not enough profit in it. They make a great deal more profit inventing stuff and licensing the technology to others! Hence Millipede. It doesn't matter who mass-markets the technology, IBM will make money off of it -- or, if it doesn't succeed, off of something even better!
      M Wagner
      • Responsible of many - not most

        IBM may be responsible for many of the technologies - doubt about the claim of 'most'.
        As to PC's. I don't think it is as much about WANTING as it is reading the writing on the wall - China will was going to take over the PC market whether IBM wants it or not. We licensed them giving them the know-how and technologies to produce cheaply. They'll now open a plant next door and undercut our brands with their own brand. Short term brilliance for long term stupidity on our part.
  • Not where I am

    Don't forget those of us in rural areas like the Adirondack Mts.-

    Cell phones drop out here around every turn. No towers & it takes an act of God to get one plunked up on a mountain- even if you can't see the bloody things through the trees!

    PDA is it for now...

  • Storage is not the problem with cell phones

    With sd up to 1gb and cf up to 8gb storage is not the problem
    There is no link between the computer and the phone to load the stuff on to it
    the only way that your allowed to get stuff to your phone is to use the phone company data service (witch is between 20 and 40 a month)
    The major issue i have with this is only in the US
    In other countries people hook there phones up to there computer down load mps and address book and other stuff to there phones.

    Its NOT technology that preventing the merger of the cell phone, mp3 player and PDA it's the cell phone company wont support a cell phone that will completely link up to your computer.
  • I don't think so ...

    Price is not the issue -- Capitalism works. In three years (1984-87), the CD player went from $1,000 to $200. Today they're about $25. Since 2000, Flat-panel HDTV went from $20K to $2k and, over the last 15 years, laptops went from $8K to $800.

    Over that time, the available functionality has grown only marginally.

    Despite our complaints (and the advances in battery and chip technology), most of us still get about two hours out of our laptop computers -- or six hours out of our PDAs. Maybe a day or two out of our cell phones.

    By the time any new technology comes to market at moderate prices, the software folks have found a way to consume all of the available resources provided by that technology. In short, they keep moving us to higher price points in order to get the added functionailty.

    When you are in college, you buy a Honda Civic. When you get a job you buy a Prelude. When you get married you buy an Accord. When you have kids, you buy an Odyssey. When your kids graduate from college, you buy an S-2000!

    In IT, the progession is the same. In the end, no product does everything well. You want a fully integrated product that replaces, a PDA, an MP3 player, and a cell phone? Then you are going to end up with a laptop computer with Wi-Fi, a data card for your cellular network, bluetooth for wireless earphones, VoIP software, and two hours of battery life! And it will cost you $1,000 outright and $100 per month in services charges.

    Our you can buy an iPOD, a BlackBerry, and a Palm Tungsten and spend, collectively, about $1,000 and pay $100 in service charges every month. (Brand names subject to change.)

    Regardless of which way you go, every three to five years, you are going to put down another $1000 for a new set of tools/toys -- while still paying that $100 per month in service charges.

    No matter what IBM or anyone else announces today and brings to market tomorrow, marketing forces will insure that things stay pretty much the same.
    M Wagner
  • Millipede

    Applying atomic force microscopy principles to storage is clever. However, from reading the 1999 technical paper the mechanical aspects, specifically positioning techniques, are (or were) not fully worked out. Millipede also requires a termperature tolerance of 1 degree C. Mechanical sensitivity and terperature control would make it unsuitable for portable devices. Arrays of Millipedes in a stable environment could be very useful for higher-end storage of, say, medical images, particularly where the access rate was lower.