A recent review in Engadget of Motorola’s new splash-and-bash-proof smartphone made an interesting point that sets it apart from many of the previous tough-phones:
“Typically, ruggedized phones are overbuilt, over-engineered behemoths that are obviously designed to look tough, and that’s just not the case with this one.”
The Motorola engineers have worked hard to improve its durability without dramatically affecting its profile (and without the need for an additional chunky case). Consequently, the Defy looks like just another touch screen handset that wouldn’t look out of place at the office. It opens out the range of possible contexts in which the device can be effective, like adding another tool to a swiss army knife.
The dominance of the slate form factor has established an envelope within which designers and engineers must cram their ideas and components. Is it possible that this could constrain new ideas that don’t fit with this convention? New technologies such as flexible displays, mini-projectors and secondary surfaces are on the horizon and have the potential to create radically new form factors, but they will need to overcome this inertia that appears to exist both in the mobile industry and in consumers. These questions will be among those to be discussed at the upcoming MEX event on Nov 30th – Dec 1st 2010.