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The Future of Smartphones? Just Add Tweezers...

Posted: 07/07/2012 00:00

A report out this week suggested that smartphones had become "the new Swiss Army Knives", which is patently ridiculous, as your iPhone does not have a tool for getting stones out of horses' hooves. But what if it did? What if it had a little pair of scissors, and a bottle opener, too?

A mobile phone might currently be able to replace a notepad and a spirit level, but until they start kitting out these digital bricks with a bit of emery board on the back, they're no use to the lady with a nail-based emergency.

With this in mind, and in the interests of procrastination (I have proper stuff to write), I thought it only fair to conduct my own one-man feasibility study into a genuine Swiss Army Knife/smartphone combo...

Design
First of all, ask yourself if you would be happy with an iPhone that was roughly 2cm wider? Could your trouser pocket/handbag take the extra girth without suffering undue stress? Assuming so, our proposed smartphone-come-Leatherman basically packs all of its tools in additional storage space either side of your phone. Think of your phone as you know it but now wearing a fat little rubberised jacket that is crammed full of gizmos. You still there? Good.
Feasibility rating: 10

Tools
Using hard but lightweight materials (we all know they're out there - don't ask me for specifics), we're looking at about five or six that could be secreted into your phone's new multi-functional sleeve. Top of the list are the aforementioned bottle opener and scissors, but I'd also suggest fold-out tweezers, screwdriver, corkscrew, and bringing the concept kicking and screaming into the 21st century, a standard-issue IKEA-sized allen key.
Feasibility: 10 again

Price
Well, if Mr Zuckerberg really does want to corner the smartphone market, he'd do well to keep this baby affordable. I'm saying, what, an extra tenner over the price of your standard HTC? Or, if you're on some sort of contract, an extra tuppence a fortnight. Incidentally, if you're reading, Mr Z - and let's not pretend you aren't - you might wish to add a big red button that pops out and lets you instantly delete weirdos or, indeed, revert your privacy settings to 2006 levels.
Feasibility: also 10. Get the gadgets sponsored by Coke and the price hike need not happen at all.

Desirability
Quick question: you're standing in the Carphone Warehouse and the man hands you the new iPhone (well, an imitation iPhone stuck to three inches of curly wire) and then he hands you the same thing which comes in a chunky sleeve around the edge which reveals a toothpick when pressed. Which one do you choose?
Feasibility: your call, but I'm already sold: 10

Verdict
Having quickly submitted this to our R&D team (also me, as it happens), their (my) conclusion is that the market is not only ready for this: people are expecting it. Think not of the phone in your pocket as a multi-tasking digital office-come-entertainment centre; think of it as a potential multi-tasking digital office-come-entertainment centre that you could assemble a set of FLACKË shelves with.

Next week: can you turn your wallet into a one-man survival unit? (Quick answer: no).

 

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