As the old saying goes, once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, three times is a trend. A few weeks ago, I started hearing a lot of buzz about this little thing. Sony's Mylo (which stands for "My Life Online") is being hyped as the next must-have gadget, a small wi-fi enabled device that allows for IMing, VoIP, Web surfing, and listening to music and media.
Now, this week's gadget buzz centers around Chumby, which has been described modestly as an alarm clock for the 21st century. Actually it's a fully hackable wireless computer that can be encased in whatever you wish (cuddly toys, fake rocks, etc). Chumby's biggest selling point is the fact that you can download a variety of open source widgets from the Net to configure the device any way you would like.
(Neither device is on sale yet; they should be generally available for consumers sometime in early 2007).
Both Mylo and Chumby are small wireless gizmos that allow the users to load 'em up with stuff from the Web. Granted Mylo is a proprietary device while Chumby all but begs its users to hack it. But beyond that they are quite similar in overall concept. Question is: Are we seeing a new class of consumer device coming into being here?
We've gotten used to thinking about convergence as the point where the Internet, mobile communication, and television will meet. I think many of us have assumed that convergence will take place only on those devices, or else on one kind of unified device. Could it be that we will see many types of specific-purpose converged gadgets such as Personal Entertainment Devices or, well, fancy wi-fi clock radios?
Judging by the reactions in this post (referring to the Mylo), it could go either way. On the one hand, you have those that grumble that Mylo is nothing more than a PDA phone with neither PDA nor phone functionality. On the other hand you have those who point out that:
[I]f an iPod had come out yesterday with video support, wi-fi, mobile internet, skype a long battery life and replacable memory for $350 everyone would have been amazed and jumping for joy saying "when can I get one of these!"