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6 Endangered Tech Species

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Picking up an Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iPad or clamoring for Amazon's (AMZN - Get Report) Kindle? You may as well get a DVD player, too, as their combined usefulness is on the clock.

The future of technology is integration, something Apple's iPhone and Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android products have a better grasp of than, say, Garmin's (GRMN - Get Report) personal navigation devices or Acer's netbooks. Though there seems to be enough room for everyone -- with the Commerce Department finding last week that American spending on tech items increased 1.8% from 2007 through the first six months of this year while spending on appliances, furniture and clothing declined -- analysts agree that the only thing separating some gadgets from the grave is the size of their displays.

"Handsets aren't going to cannibalize televisions anytime soon, because users want a big-screen media-playback experience that can be accommodated in the home," says Ross Rubin, an analyst for NPD Group. "However, handsets may cannibalize Blu-ray players at some point because, as bandwidth improves and we see more media on demand and HDMI outputs or wireless features built into the phone, it could take on the functionality of a Roku device or Blu-ray player."

With motion-control gaming, e-books, navigation, mid-range-megapixel cameras and myriad other computing options already included in smartphones, the market space and need for more screens is shrinking. While the iPad is among the devices shrugging it off with more than 3 million sales so far this year, the nearly 4 percentage point growth in the smartphone market so far in 2010 and the $6.2 billion Gartner predicts will be spent downloading 4.5 billion mobile applications in app stores this year has navigation devices, netbooks and even Nintendo starting to feel pressure in their numbers.

"One thing we said seven or eight years ago was that there would be functional convergence of products but physical diversion -- which means you'll have one device for everything," says Ken Dulaney, an analyst for Gartner. "There's no reason a camera can't make a phone call, and I'm sure it will, and there's no reason why you can't have a Nintendo device that makes a phone call, and I'm sure it will."

With an eye toward tech omnipotence, TheStreet looked at devices that face extinction in the near future and focused on these six endangered species:

Digital cameras: With Android phones up to 8 megapixels and the iPhone 4 boasting pixel-free resolution at 5 megapixels, even the digital-camera industry sees the impending slowdown. The Camera and Imaging Products Association -- a consortium formed by Nikon, Olympus, Canon, Sony, Panasonic and other Japanese camera makers -- forecast only 2.9% for this year and 2011 after double-digit growth until 2008. The growth of standard point-and-shoot models is more modest at roughly 2.5%.

"We're just now starting to see handsets come on board with 5- to 8-megapixel cameras, and that's where we saw digital cameras really start to take off," Rubin says. "Unless the consumer has a need for optical zoom or some of the things that are more difficult to accommodate with software, we'll see more users take pictures with their handset."

This suggests a widening schism between the average tourist shooter and the guy trying way too hard to take pictures of trees in his local park. Shipments of high-end interchangeable-lens SLR cameras are expected to be much more robust, growing 8.6% in 2010 and 7% in 2012. The large size of current SLR lenses will keep them from becoming just another smartphone snap-on, but their small market share may reduce cameras to the domain of die-hards.

"You have to look at what you want to do really well and where you want to just get by," Dulaney says. "If you just want to get by, then an iPhone's all you need, but if want to see an email on a large screen or take pictures of your dog in really high quality, you'll get an iPad and a camera as well."
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