Friday, June 27, 2008

Bob's Cystal Ball: PocketTops

With the run-up to the iPhone 3G introduction and the changing of the guard over at Microsoft, I got to thinking about the future of computing and about what the landscape will look like 3-5 years down the road.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that within the next couple of years we'll see the decline of the laptops and the increase of mobile devices that will be able to function like our laptops do today.

I think that Apple is trying to build more than just a mobile device - I think they're trying to build an entire platform. The little iPhone has it's own operating system (based on Linux), it's own SDK, and it's linked in to millions of copies of iTunes.

So people will start writing the default applications: games, crm links, word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Apple is moving toward the online synch and storage (mobileMe) and AJAX-ifying it's own applications in the cloud for use anywhere on any platform. They also announced wireless FireWire.

It makes total sense that the iPhone would become a true mobile computer in your pocket - or a PocketTop. I can envision on the road with the "normal" iPhone (and the smaller screen) when on the plane; it would wirelessly connect with a monitor and keyboard in my office; would wirelessly connect to my car's audio system; would allow me to wirelessly connect to a projector in a meeting room; etc.

That would be a device I'd buy in a MINUTE. And, I think a lot of others would as well.

To be sure, there are some technical hurdles - like processor power, battery life, solid state storage and faster mobile (4G) networks that need to be solved before this can happen - but I think we'll see these advances in the next couple of years.

In fact, handhelds are advancing faster than laptops - in terms of memory and CPU prowess. Laptop memory capacity typically doubles every two years, while pocket devices are those gains annually.

To be sure - there will always be room for bigger "real" machines in server rooms, etc. - but I think that about 85%-90% of people who are using laptops today would buy a PocketTop with similar capabilities - assuming they could use it everywhere.

Now I only hope I don't lose it...

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