It seems like a no brainer: why get one piece of equipment set only to do one thing when you can get another piece of equipment that can do two or more things? These days, everyone wants a device that can do more than just what its previous form was designed to do. There simply isn’t enough room for everything that people need their electronics to do these days that it’s no wonder that they now expect their devices to multi-task.

The Then

Smartphones are one of the biggest examples: It used to be a simple wireless phone, large with soft button numbers capable only of displaying the numbers you have dialed (you had to dial them in, back then, you didn’t have an integrated contacts book to rely on), and making calls, with a battery that lasts only a couple of hours. Some of them even needed be carried around with a special case in which it could be charged throughout the day. It’s considered to be a “pure play” device these days, which means it’s capable of doing the one thing it was invented to do.

The Now

But these days, smartphones are the must-haves. In fact, cellphones that are only capable of sending and receiving messages are seen as disposables—throwaways that you use only if you needed a spare. Even then, sometimes a smartphone is still the consumers’ choice. Smartphones are not just capable of making calls—they can hold a large volume of contact numbers, addresses, and email addresses, which also extend to being able to call another user online via a VoIP service


as well as access the Internet for browsing and sending email.

And that is merely on the communication end of the spectrum. Now, there are even apps that can turn the smartphone into a handheld computer that allows you to work while on the go.

The Smart Devices versus the Pure Play

As expected, the pure play devices (according to analysts at Accenture) have borne the brunt of the innovation. One fine example is the digital camera. It couldn’t have been more than five years ago when digital cameras were in such high demand as Internet usage went on the rise. Everyone suddenly had to be able to share pictures of their experiences online. But that changed when smartphones steadily began to develop the capacity to take high-quality photos, some with megapixels and quality surpassing that of the digital cameras.

The fact that the phones were capable of so much more and takes pictures as well makes them the obvious consumer choice. The iPod Touch’s latest incarnation, it has also been said, was seen as a nail in the coffin for the digital camera. With all its functionality and excellent photography capabilities, one really won’t need a point and shoot to take pictures for social media.

Accenture’s analysis shows a considerable rise in the usage of multi-function devices from 2009 to 2012, which includes smartphones, tablets, HDTVs, Blu-Ray/DVD players, phone systems and more. The pure play devices, like digital video cameras, mp3 players, DVDs, and the like have steadily declined in terms of demand. It looks like devices that older generations knew and loved will soon be obsolete.