Dotzler’s Law of Smartphone Assimilation

Update: It has been pointed out to me that I just reinvented “Raymond’s Rule of Smartphone Subsumption“. While I prefer the Borg-esque overtones of “Assimilation”, I have to admit he got there first. And he does have a couple of useful qualifiers on his rule which deal with edge cases noted in the comments.

I present Dotzler’s Law of Smartphone Assimilation, which is:

The smartphone will assimilate the functions of any electronic device smaller in size than itself.

Devices that this has happened to already include:

  • Mobile phone
  • Pager
  • PDA
  • GPS
  • Camera
  • Music player
  • Portable gaming console
  • Portable WiFi hotspot
  • Dictaphone
  • Calculator
  • Torch
  • Radio
  • Guitar tuner

It has even happened to some non-electronic devices, such as:

  • Compass
  • Spirit level

Resistance is futile… Can anyone suggest any more assimilated devices?

19 thoughts on “Dotzler’s Law of Smartphone Assimilation

  1. Portable Metronome (along similar lines as the guitar tuner)
    Keychain flashlight

    The law might fail in the shorter term when it comes to hearing aids, pacemakers, and the like. :)

  2. – Book/e-Reader
    – Loyalty cards (e.g. for Starbucks)
    – Photos (I don’t carry photos around, but would have done if my phone couldn’t)
    – USB key
    – Train ticket (possibly should be lumped with loyalty card since it’s really just representing a piece of paper)
    – Barcode scanner (I’d love to see someone using a smartphone barcode reader to read a smartphone loyalty card)

    I’d also separate out GPS in the sense of sat nav and GPS in the sense of a running watch since I think they’re quite separate devices with relatively little overlap with both being attacked by smartphones.

    I’m pretty sure you could come up with a hundred devices/products where the function can be provided by a smartphone. I wonder how many where the function is of a similar standard to the original. Spirit level certainly isn’t there on my phone, but I can’t imagine ever considering carrying around a calculator now.

  3. It’s not really an absolute law. For example, while technically possible it makes a pretty poor guitar tuner since it’s just not sensitive enough to be as good as my $12 tuner. It’s also not a replacement for a good camera. But it’s still handy enough to be my most used camera.

  4. – TV Remote Control
    – dB meter
    – Computer Mouse: I haven’t seen this yet but it would be nice when traveling with laptop.

    Some small electronic devices that defy the law (without provision for significant hardware adapters):

    – mini hand-held wind speed meter
    – “breathalizer”
    – volt/amp meter

  5. Maybe the law should be ref raised to read “…any commonly used electronic device…” I’m sure that if we were all windsurfing fanatics every phone would soon sport a mini wind turbine next to the camera!

  6. Electronic:
    – Memory stick (sort of)
    – Pedometer
    – Presentation remote (i.e. for clicking “next slide” in PowerPoint… no laser pointer yet though)
    – Remote trackpad for laptop (by Logitech)

    Non-electronic:
    – Translation dictionary
    – Map

  7. Some phones have picoprojectors. Hmm, this is actually assimilating a device larger than smartphone.

    I also remember reading about a new microscope that was the size of the tip of my little finger. Probably the only reason these haven’t (?) been integrated into cellphones is that hardly anyone would have any use for it.

    Some new phones also have gyroscopes and barometers.

    Some phones have light sensors usable as lux (light) meters.

    Some phones have trackballs etc. that let you use the phone as a measuring tape.

  8. – airport boarding pass (in CDG, you can check in with a cellphone)
    – wallet (RFID-enabled cellphones allowing you to pay)
    – remote control for toys (Parrot AR.Drone)

  9. Cigarettes (!), heart rate monitor.

    Missing:
    thermometer, altimeter

    The frustrating thing is that smartphones’ versions of these are ALL so substandard and generic, no matter how much you’re willing to spend. Most smartphone speakers are appalling, even my Evo’s loudspeaker is worse than a 20-year old transistor radio. You can’t get a decent camera lens on a smartphone since the Nokia N92’s demise. Etc.

    @mawrya, I don’t think any Android phone has an infrared transmitter. Smartphones have taken a step back from 5 years ago when any Palm PDA with Novii Remote software could control all your gizmos.