Does It Have to Be a Device of Compromises?

My bro and I were chatting over IM not too long ago about IM (instant messaging) and how horrible that it is because if you really want to chat to anyone anywhere, then you have to use bridge applications and services. It was an all to notable reminder than a lot of things that I wish for on the mobile side really amounts to a collection of compromises.

For example, IM. It doesn’t work on every device equally. For some you need to install one or several applications, on some others you just install service hooks, and some you have to deal with SMS as the gateway. Back when I first heard about the Nokia N97, the mobile that I currently use as primary, I was attracted to the fact that it showed not only the use of IM in a tab by the addressbook, but also showed Skype doing the same. I had healthy expectations that it would be the integrated expereince I was looking for.

However, the N97 didn’t end up like this, and has actually gone a good bit further away from that. Now there are seperate applications for AIM/Yahoo/MSN/GTalk, Ovi/Gtalk, and Skype. It’s crazy enough to have accounts with all of those services, let alone applications for each set. But this is one of those compromises that you deal with for IM, and mobile.

There’s the smooth performance of a high speed processor and larger screen of the high end mobile, or the near-infinite battery life and simpler approach of the lower end devices. Rare is there a device that combines enough of the qualities of both to be a viable choice. And when you do find something close to perfect – I’ll again point to my N97 – you get a major showstopper (lack of RAM makes the system quick to shut off applications, even as you use them).

Don’t take this to mean that there’s not a means to find some contentment. I have been very much satisfied with my N97 (except for those noted quirks), so much so that even though I’d like to consider another device. It is just that I know for sure that it has to be a step forward, not a lateral move (and yes, everything currently available today is either one of those).

It is almost like mobiles are in effect left on the chopping block to always leave you wanting more. Though, I’d argue that I’d willingly take more if certain aspects of devices were more livable (service layers, battery life, input mechanisms, etc.). At that point, compromise would look more like waiting until a dream is realized, instead of waiting until the bug is addressed in the next model or service.