Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Death of the PC at the hands of the cellphone

CNet reported that Nick Clifford of Symbian made a claim in his keynote speech at the Symbian Smartphone Show that the PC would be on its last legs in five years time. While somewhat dramatic I agree with the fundemental shift that is happening. The growth in use of smartphones is accelerating. PC users are outnumbered by cellphone users. I believe this shift will cause future developments on the Internet to be driven by cellphone use. I have already written about HookMobile and Nakama and their innovative Multimedia Messaging applications. The smartphone is being boosted by the spread of high speed wireless data networks. More sophisticated mobile web browsers and high resolution screens are allowing easier browsing. Companies such as Google have also optimized their services for cellphone users.

The web as platform

The emergence of Rich Internet Applications as part of Web 2.0 will only serve to increase the usefulness of the cellphone. As more processing is handled on the web the demands on the client are reduced. This creates more of a level playing field in which the cellphone benefits because it is immediately to hand for many users.

Broadband - the next killer application

A couple of years ago I was at a telecommunications industry meeting. The question at hand was - What is the next killer application? I came away from that event convinced that the next killer application was not going to be a specific software application but was instead a technology - Broadband. I remember the switch from using dial-up to DSL service. This led to a subtle change in PC use. Because the internet connection was always on, the PCs were kept running. Because the PCs were on and available we got used to kicking off an Internet search to answer a question or find information. As download speeds increased through the use of cable and fibre it became less relevant whether an application was local or on the Internet. High speed Internet access is THE killer application. The wireless, broadband Internet-enabled smartphone will transform our use of the Internet. I don't believe that the PC necessarily dies. It will however transform. The laptop, with its more convenient form factor will continue to marginalize the desktop. At the other end of the spectrum as applications are absorbed in to the Internet the server will replace the desktop. We may well have a media and applications server in our homes that replaces the desktop of today. Laptops will be used for heavy lifting applications such as video editing, software development, multimedia, complex text editing and graphic design but the cellphone will increasingly become the first choice device to support our interaction with others in this world where constant competition for our attention is unrelenting. I also see the situtation emerging where laptops will either have their own high speed wireless connection, or will share the cellphone's wireless connection.

Web 2.0 lowers the barrier to input and enables Mobile 2.0

Web 2.0 has taught us that the web is the platform. In many cases voice recognition and voice processing does not need to be handled by the client. This is a service that can be passed off to highly optimized grids on the Internet. As this happens we lower the barrier to input and reduce the pressure to upgrade to bigger, faster processors as client devices. That push will be focused in the server arena. On the client side the focus will switch to creating smaller, more power efficient devices. With our data hosted on the Internet we will become less dependent upon a single device, such as a laptop, and instead may end up using multiple devices that suit different environments and we will be able to switch seamlessly between them as our schedule demands. What are your thoughts? Join the conversation and leave a comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment