I was talking with my son-in-law yesterday about his iPhone and the future of mobile computing. We disagreed slightly: I said that my holy grail is an all in one device that would serve all my needs: something iPhone-like when I'm out, but able to use a wireless keyboard, connect to a real display (and probably a wired network too) when I want it to, and of course sacrificing nothing in computing capabilities and access. He seemed to feel there won't be enough consumer demand to justify such devices, while I remain hopeful.
On his side is the ever present trend toward dumbing down. Technology always moves toward consumer obscurity as the things we want to do with it become packaged and commercialized - the tinkerer (that's us) gets pushed out as this happens. Computers are multi-purpose, tinkerer's devices, cell phones originally were single purpose, non-tinkering technology. The two have been moving toward one another and while my vision is the piece of easy to use consumer electronics that also functions as a general purpose computer, the prepackaged aspect may turn out to be the winner. After all, what does Joe Consumer need? Not a tremendous amount more than what iPhones and Palms etc. already have.
But I still have hope. This morning I saw this link about The Future Of Mobile Tech. That talks quite a bit about Ultra Mobile PC's (UMPC's). They quote VIA's Richard Brown:
"You'll see five-inch screens next year," says Brown, "then smaller. It's a two- to three-year trend, it won't happen overnight." But the end result will be a convergence of these ultra-mobile devices with smartphones like the iPhone and the recently announced Open Moko Linux platform.
Linux is strong in the mobile area. That alone bodes well for more powerful features and for openness.
I was also taken by the ad text for Palm's Foleo. No, that's not yet the machine I want, but one of the closing sentences of that page is this:
So leave your laptop docked at your desk more often.
That's the impetus that I want to see driving things in my direction.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-05-04 Anthony Lawrence
What do such machines really do? They increase the number of things we can do without thinking. Things we do without thinking — there's the real danger. (Frank Herbert)