Commentary

A Spoiled Brat's Wish List For 2007

As my family is quick to point out about me this time of year, it is pretty tough to buy for a man who reviews and consults about the latest gadgets and man-toys. Right around now, my office is looking like the back room at Best Buy. Which is good and bad. I love toys, even at an age when my eyes are having trouble reading the instructions without an electron scanning microscope. On the other hand, the neighborhood kids keep trying to break into my house... with their Dads' help.

Luckily, soft-bellied, suburban middle-class boys and their bigger-bellied fathers are not the go-to guys for breaking and entering. It is a bit like watching a cluster of SUVs trying to come in through a basement window.

One of my friends keeps saying, "I want your job," as he drives off to his cubicle at the nearby pharmaceutical company campus. But lately, his morning chant has an increasingly dangerous and desperate edge that is starting to frighten me. Remember the way Golem eyes Frodo in "Lord of the Rings"? That is something you don't want to meet in your driveway in the morning.

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I also end up with a lot of socks and belts for Christmas, because all the cool stuff already got sent to me.

Okay, I am pathetically spoiled. But don't hate me because I have the cool toys. Just think of me as you in three years. The stuff that I really wanted this Christmas is what you'll be craving in 2010. Principally, you'll want all of these wireless devices and services to work better and more sensibly together. All I want for the coming year is peace and harmony--among all of our overpriced and unnecessary mobile toys!

  • A mobile game that genuinely extends the experience of console or PC gameplay. I have been hearing about this plan for five years now. When will I really be able to flip open my Motorola Q and fidget with an RPG character from my Xbox 360 version of "Oblivion," or customize a car in my PS3 version of "Ridge Racer 7"? Stop throwing bad ports of console brands at me and endless "Bejeweled" clones.

  • One landline and wireless broadband access plan. I want to pay one company one fee and get broadband in my home, on my laptop at Starbucks, and on my phone. If you can't give me that in 2007, then please make wireless broadband cheaper--or an incremental fee attached to the 3G service I am already paying for on my phone. WWAN is a true godsend to business travelers. Having real Internet access everywhere changes the way you work.

  • Personalize this medium. Ironically, the most personal device yet invented seems to be the last to give up the dream of mass media and mass merchandising. We don't all want to share the same interface or the same bottomless pit of content choices. There is no reason why a country music lover needs to review the latest hip hop tunes when cracking open a mobile music service. Carriers need to parse the audience much more effectively and offer more targeted content choices. Make your Web sites a usable hub for managing your cell phone content.

  • Ditch the interface. If carriers really want mobile data services to take off, then they have to find much better ways for the content we want and buy to come to the surface. This platform needs a "What's New" button smack dab in the middle of the opening screen. I need the newest "Daily Show" clips to push themselves out of their well-buried menus in VCast and present themselves to me in a list of my favorites that is a click away from opening my phone.

  • A ten-hour battery for multimedia phones. Mobile TV and mobile music are moot until we get real advances in battery life. Voice trumps sexy multimedia every time, and as soon as people realize that they can see the power indicator decline when using these juice-suckers, you will see more users ignore mobile media.

  • Put a hard drive and Wi-Fi in my car. Some may say that I am spoiled enough to have an integrated iPod adapter in my Mini Cooper S. Not enough, says this brat. It only makes me hungry for the day that multimedia downloads directly to my car audio system. My car should appear as just another synch location in iTunes or Windows Media Player.

  • Buy once, access everywhere. I already purchased several episodes of "Jericho" on iTunes and "Studio 60" on Xbox 360's Video Marketplace. So why can't I see them at mid-resolution online, in a low-res portable version on my phone, and in 1080i on my HDTV? And why can't I burn it to a DVD to watch on a portable player? True mobile media should follow me to whatever platform I decide is most convenient for viewing at the moment.

    Yeah, I know. This Christmas, I got more belts and socks--just as I expected.

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