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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What will Tomorrow Bring?

Is the game changing?

I am still amazed how much of the older generation don't get technology and the beauty that is the Internet. Come to think of it, most people I know outside technology circles still have a hard time wrapping their minds around the computer. Don't even get started on the whole concept that is the Internet. That one, is a lot harder to translate. Perhaps its abstractness just shatters the mind. On the one hand, the geekyness of tech is probably more to blame. Then again, I know of a few people who still think Computers and the Internet is the devil's playground.

Is that game changing?

Rewind back to sparkling new year of 2007 when in Macworld, the joyous woot of Apple's Faithful as the iPhone was unveiled was a shot that was heard around the world. When all was said and done in June, as the iPhone went forth, future generations in decades to come may remember it as the beginning that computers and the Internet would be as essential as power and water and food. The dream of every enthusiast, what every futurist has been talking about since the Personal Computer came into being has begun to become a reality. In the near future, every person will be tied to what essentially will be the computer's great-grandchild.

Engineers call this soon-to-come-device today with the unsexy term, Ultra Mobile PC or UMPC, if you want to go all acronym.

Palm Pilots. Newtons. Cell Phones. Smart Phones. Blackberries. Kindle. EeePC. iPhone. They're the grandfather of the UMPC. The One-Laptop-Per-Child will be remembered as game changer at best, a precursor that indeed every child in the world will be tied to a computer. And at worst? a footnote in history that it was a good try and it has been instrumental in creating competition to bring laptop prices down. But it may be remembered to be a device, too early for its time. One day soon, a device with all the functions of a one-laptop-per-child computer and more--- will be a part of every child as essential as books and paper and pencils are today. A device evolution will begin to take place and the UMPC will be that spawn.

It will not be far off. The year that was 2007 has already shown us what this truly personalized computer could be in the iPhone. It's promise of true convergence is mind blowing. The technology roadmap ahead tells us that the hardware to do it all is here, waiting.

It isn't even a question if software is up to it. It is even as developers are playing catch up, but it will catch up fast. That's not saying the software technology isn't here yet. it is. just needs building.

It is now a question of infrastructure. How do you bring the Internet to the masses as cheap as the cellphone has become and as reliable and faster than cable-dsl? 3G? 4G? Wifi in every street corner? As much as I like wifi in every cafe and having one at virtually every place i live and work in is great, but to wifi every public place is a stopgap measure. For a truly personal, mobile network experience, every device has to be on the Internet 24/7, and without those ridiculous bandwidth cap that telecoms strap their consumers with. Perhaps, their transformation is slow because of the bottom line.

better "pipes" to the internet would be required for such services as VOIP and as long as such services will undermine the natural scale of things for the telecoms, it will be a slow process to get adapted.

SMS and phone calls just became dated. No longer niche, they will not go the way of fax (at least not yet but soon). SMS and phone calls will go the route of Instant Messaging and eMail--- transformed as just another service which is just as important. Just ask Jaiku, Pownce, Tumblr, and Twitter. Convergence will of course be the name of the game.

If 2007 saw the possibilities of ultra mobile PCs, 2008 will see the ships of the invasion move from the design table and manufacturing and into ships that will carry it out to sea for the invasion. 2008 will be the beginning of Ultra Mobile PCs. It will truly make the computer, a personal experience.

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