Smartphone functionality is being held back because of problems incorporating standard hard disk drives (HDDs) into commercially viable devices.
According to IDC, a "number of further evolutionary steps" are necessary before the marriage of HDDs and mobiles becomes a mass-market reality.
Alex Slawsby, senior research analyst in IDC's mobile devices service, said adding HDD storage would address many of the limitations that have kept converged devices from reaching their full potential.
"Handsets already have the killer application of wireless telephony, and adding increased storage will make them a viable option for extensive music, imaging, reference and business applications," he said in a statement.
But HDDs have not yet achieved the economies of scale necessary to attract the masses, the analyst firm noted.
"Cost, size, and power consumption are prohibitive factors," said Dave Reinsel, IDC hard disk drives and components research manager.
"Flash memory is still the best near-term option, with rotating storage solutions too costly, too large and too power-hungry for all but the highest-end, business-class mobile phones."
This will not change until HDD technology improves further and the price of such drives drops below $50 and arguably below $30, IDC predicted.
The analyst said today's MP3-enabled phones can only store about eight to 12 4MB songs. In contrast, a new breed of HDD-based phone, similar to an HDD-based MP3 jukebox players, could easily hold several thousand songs, images, or hours of video.
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