Gadgets keep integrating new functions and getting smarter, but the market for their dumb standalone predecessors still exists. For every gamer playing Angry Birds on a Google (GOOG) Android smartphone during lunch, there's someone taking another lap in Mario Kart for the Nintendo DS at the same time. For every traveler watching the Twilight series on a tablet during a trip to Tokyo, there are tourists making their way through Europe on the same e-reader battery charge they arrived with.
While an iPhone, Android phone and even Windows (MSFT) Mobile smartphone can do everything an MP3 player, GPS device or dumb-as-rocks feature phone can, companies are still producing the latter in great quantities while gently prodding users toward the former.
Some devices have reached the point of no return. The Camera and Imaging Products Association -- a consortium formed by Nikon, Olympus, Canon, Sony (SNE), Panasonic (PC) and other Japanese camera makers -- has already forecast the slow demise of the venerable point-and-click digital camera amid smartphones with high-definition cameras and pixel-free clarity. The group says the old standby's 13.2% growth last year will dwindle to 6.4% this year. That includes the pre-tsunami prediction of point-and-click's switch from 4.5% growth in Japan last year to a 1.1% decline this year. If the lenses of digital SLR cameras weren't the size of some smartphones, their growth might be affected more acutely as well."You have the low-end $5 disposable cameras and the high-end digital SLR, but anything below $300 to $400 has died and the whole hobby segment has been pushed into phones," says Roger Entner, founder of and analyst for Recon Analytics. "We basically can hold the funeral for the point-and-click now; last year was the wake, this year is the funeral." Other standalone devices are still showing not only a pulse, but surprising resiliency in an increasingly smart world. We took a look at five gadgets that aren't going quietly and found out there's still demand for seemingly dumb devices:
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