The history of mobile phone technology reads like the plot from Highlander. A variety of standalone devices have been decapitated and absorbed into increasingly complex handsets. To highlight how powerful mobile phones have become, here's a list of things that the mobile phone has made, or will make, obsolete. As Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez would say, "In the end, there can be only one".
Phone boxes - Before mobile phones existed these charming, although often smelly, communication booths were very popular. The first classic red phone box was introduced in the 1920s and today phone boxes offer a variety of services including web access. The introduction of mass-market mobile phones though has meant that phone boxes are almost completely pointless.
Wristwatches - Want to know what time it is? Most people have given up on wearing a watch and simply use their mobile phone's clock. It's not just about checking the time though. Wearing a cool watch used to be much more of fashion statement or a way for people to show off how affluent they were, but today phones have taken over those roles to a great extent.
Bedside alarm clocks - It's unlikely that mobile phone manufacturers realised how successful the alarm clock feature would be. Our anecdotal evidence suggests that most of our friends use their mobile phone as their daily alarm clock. One look on Google and you can see how popular iPhone alarm apps are. We think that standalone bedside alarm clocks' days are over.
MP3 players - There was a time when you'd struggle to fit all your contacts on your mobile's memory, let alone your music. There was even a time when mobile phones didn't have 3.5mm headphone jacks but fortunately those days are over. As more and more phones offer everything that standalone MP3 players offer it's becoming less necessary to own two separate devices.
Landline home phones - The landline telephone was developed in the 19th century but only became a common household object in the 20th century. Similar to phone boxes, mobile phones have meant there's practically no need to own a home phone. While people tend to need a landline connection for web access, we think the days of landline home phones will come to an end soon.
Compact digital cameras - Early camera phones where painfully bad but strong sales proved that there was a demand for them. Over time phone camera technology has hugely improved and phones such as the Nokia N82, produce pictures worthy of printing. Big DSLRs will always be better than camera phones but the gap between compact cameras and camera phones is getting smaller and smaller.
Netbooks - Nokia once tried to instigate a new term, asking people to refer to some of its handsets as 'multimedia computers'. At the time it seemed a bit over the top but today that term seems fitting and it's foreseeable that all our mobile computing needs will be met by phones. There are still good reasons to own a netbook but it won't take long for mobile phones to catch up.
Handheld games consoles - The iPhone has pushed mobile gaming further than any other mobile manufacturer to date. Certain iPhone games are as good as games on the Nintendo DS or PSP. The main advantage of mobile phones over dedicated gaming devices is their ability to connect to mobile networks, allowing gamers to play multiplayer games wherever they are.
Paper - What do maps, dictionaries and novels have in common? They're all printed on paper and they can be heavy, expensive and difficult to access. Mobile phones and e-readers offer digital access to traditionally paper-based content. Digital publishing is a way for millions of people to access information without needing to go to a library, and it makes sense that mobile phones will act as great reading devices.
Thinking – OK, we're exaggerating a bit by saying that mobile phones will make thinking obsolete but they do take out a lot of the hard work. Whether it's using GPS to figure out where you are or looking something up on your mobile's web browser, life is definitely a lot easier than it used to be. Until your battery goes flat, of course.