Yes, that’s a bold claim. But there’s no shortage of start-ups and commentators telling you your phone is the future of their sector. If you’re working, playing, banking, driving, shopping, cooking, exercising – or doing just about anything else – your mobile is the hot device.
Right – put all this chatter together. Now move forward a year. What do you get? A pretty solid idea that your phone will be killing every other device. It’s about to monster your desktop, laptop, tablet, games console and even TV remote.
A couple of years later and one computer – your mobile – will do everything.
And, while as a self-confessed Apple devotee it pains me to say it, this future almost certainly belongs to Google and Android. Here’s how this argument shakes down:
The biggest drag on your phone replacing your desktop or laptop is it’s previous inability to run serious applications. From PowerPoint to Photoshop we’ve needed the heft of a big computing lump to get the job done. But as the power inside your phone has increased, it’s now perfectly possible to create a presentation and retouch photos. Of course the small screen is a massive limitation. But look at what can be achieved once you connect it to a big monitor:
So today’s Android phones are almost there. And once your mobile connects seamlessly with the screens around you why would you want to use anything else?
Perhaps because you like playing serious games? But that industry is ablaze with speculation that the next generation of consoles might be its last. Because of mobiles. And the co-creator of Guitar Hero has put him money on exactly that. Green Throttle has a system that makes your mobile into a console. And it looks like one of the biggest – yet simple and obvious – innovations in the space since the advent of Nokia’s Snake.
The third trend that will make phones supreme is The Internet of Things. Back in the previous century when people started talking about it, The Internet of Things could not work. The PC wasn’t a device from which it was convenient to control your music system, central heating, fridge or baby monitor. Because it skulked on a desk.
Your phone, of course is an entirely different proposition. It’s an ideal interface to all your other things. Wireless music play Sonos only really took off after it’s phone apps were released. And so major electronics manufacturers – with LG at the forefront – are now developing phone-based controls to everyday things.
Hence the recent predictions that up to 24 billion ‘things’ will be connected by 2020. And this may be an underestimate, depending on how useful controlling stuff via your phone turns out to be. But there’s already an entire industry dedicated to making it happen. Check out Cosm, for instance.
And of course cars are in on the act. At an accelerating rate. According to a report in the New York Times we can expect to see connected diagnostics, emergency calls when the airbag inflates as well as live entertainment in the back seats – all via phones – sometime soon. Phone-based satnav is so last Wednesday.
I could go on. But further examples seem unnecessary; there are so many to choose from.
Especially when you realise the trend of history is firmly with us on this one. Think of the last 60 years of the computer. From taking up an entire room, you now hold millions of times more computing ability in the palm of your hand. Turns out the PC may have been as much of a temporary technology as the mainframe.
Apparently recognising this, many think Intel is starting to de-focus on making chips for desktops and will concentrate efforts on other devices.
But this is only half the thesis. Perhaps even more interesting is the idea that Google’s Android is going to dominate this post-PC, mobile-centred Internet of Everything.
Why not Apple? (I’m assuming no-one here thinks Microsoft, Blackberry or Nokia are serious contenders?)
Well, firstly because Android already has a 75% market share of smartphones. It’s more or less the default for all moble manufacturers other than Apple. Even the mighty iPad’s dominance going to be toppled.
But we know the smartphone market is easily disrupted. Blackberry created it. Apple snatched it off them. Arguable Google owns it now. So the first to really change the game in this ‘mobile-is-everything’ trend might just take the Big Prize.
Which again makes the case for Android. Look back at those videos. They both feature Android phones. The most powerful examples already embrace mobile-is-everything. Why? Because Android works like a standard operating system. My iPhone only handles one app on the screen at a time. Android runs multiple windows. And in the world that will be mobile-is-everything, this will be critical. Plus it’s more open for developers. And there’s no risk of new apps failing by Apple locking them out of the app store.
Of course Apple could adapt. But will it?
Google just needs to stay on the same path. Apple, by contrast, would need to move away from many of the fundamental principles that made it the world’s incredible profit-making machine. Has any other organisation has ever achieved such a volte face?
Perhaps Apple cannot, especially when it seems to be struggling to innovate, post-Jobs. Two years ago we expected it to reinvent TV with channel-based apps and an amazing user interface. The world is still waiting. And perhaps it’s moved on.
So it is with deep regret, dear reader, that I inform you am about to start running an Android device. It won’t replace my iPhone (yet). But it’s the only way I’m going to keep up with mobile-is-everything.
Because I have no intention of missing the Next Big Computing Thing.
Cue breathless excitement.