I find Evans' analysis of mobile a bit hyperbolic. Yes the growth of mobile is explosive and, in some cases, it's displacing older technology. But for a lot of use cases small touch screen devices are simply inadequate. It's probably true that a lot of people that used to use desktop or laptop computers just to check email and Facebook have shifted that activity to their phones and tablets. But its equally true that these devices are still really only good for quick, informal communication and browsing. Despite the best efforts of Apple and Samsung to persuade us otherwise, tablets are lousy for getting real work done.
So we find ourselves in the ironic situation of a domain that is experiencing almost unprecedented growth but in which almost nobody is making money except Facebook and the vendors of what are essentially gimmicky slot machine games. My take on this is that the market for richer desktop/laptop software isn't going anywhere soon. People that need to edit complex spreadsheets, compose scores for films, analyze genomes, and render 3d effects need real computers. As a developer this kind of customer is in many ways a better customer to serve than a teen snapping selfies on a phone.
I think the mischaracterization is of what mobile is replacing. It isn't the PC. A PC is primarily a computing device, an iPhone is primarily a communications device.
The iPhone and iPad aren't replacing PCs, they're replacing newspaper, radio and telephone. They're only replacing PCs to the extent that the PC had already partially replaced some of those things.
In my experience tablets are also replacing books and tv.
I suspect that in a lot of houses the parents are now using tablets, the kids are using PCs/laptops and the tv is mostly off.
Well this is how it is in our house :).
Our tv now exists for netflix via chromecast once or twice a week.
For kids, their default go to device isn't the PC. That's what they use when they have to do something which isn't great on a tablet.
The other interesting thing is what they think "isn't great on a tablet". Non-professional photo or video editing - if you're a 15 year old today, that's a tablet thing, not a PC thing. A lot of gaming is phone/tablet rather than a PC.
A PC looks to me to be primarily homework using something MS Office-ish.
You can take my ability to dissipate over a half kilowatt from my cold dead hands. Some games will always be better on PC because they can make use of the power.
Just the proportion of people who play computer games who see them in this way is shrinking rapidly.
I think the real disruptive potential of GoogleTV was that it allowed you to search for something and have results from all of these disparate feeds show up in a single list. It put content from the web (including independent and user-generated content) on par with network programming or programming delivered via the web instead of a cable subscription.
When networks blocked GoogleTV from accessing their streams without tinkering with user agent strings, etc. it really put a dent in the whole strategy. The point was to show you everything that was available on the big screen in your living room. Networks wanted you to watch on the TV via the more lucrative cable and rental options and only use free web streams as an alternative when you're at your computer in the office or the hotel.
In this way, current tablet-to-TV options like Chromecast and AppleTV are less disruptive since they don't put web content on the same level as cable content. To watch TV you just flip through the channels. To watch web stuff you need to connect some device and push content to the TV. It's a small thing but I think it's a legitimate difference. Firing up YouTube to push a video to your TV isn't the same as searching for "video games" on your Google/Apple TV and seeing TotalBiscuit come up in the same search results as something from Viacom.
The latter have not been making any inroads...
It may not be official Google Android, but low cost generic Android tablets are massive in Asia. Most of them are low spec devices but that's all you need if all you're doing is watching movies and a bit of web surfing.
Now, I'm in perhaps the richer country of the whole region.
"Worldwide sales of tablets to end users reached 195.4 million units in 2013, a 68 percent increase on 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. While sales of iOS tablets grew in the fourth quarter of 2013, iOS's share declined to 36 percent in 2013. The tablet growth in 2013 was fueled by the low-end smaller screen tablet market, and first time buyers; this led Android to become the No. 1 tablet operating system (OS), with 62 percent of the market (see Table 1)."
That's why I've started calling them 'personal communicators' instead of 'phones'. Sounds a bit more Star Treky as well :)
I don't know if that's entirely true. A lot of people bought PCs 10 years ago simply because that was the only way to access this new Facespace thing their kids told them about. Those users are now using tablets or mobile because it serves their needs better than a desktop did.
The reality is that a whole lot of people bought systems with way more capabilities than their use case or abilities warranted. Desktop sales are down, and for this reason I don't think they are coming back. "Real" computer users will still use real computers, everyone else is probably better served by mobile.
Are you sure about that?
I am a developer. I have a computer for programming and a couple of LAN party games. I have a phone for everything else.
I have a monster custom built desktop at home that I don't even bother plugging in.
PCs are becoming work devices. They are cool because you can take a laptop home and do professional stuff on them for cheap, but they aren't ubiquitous or necessary like they used to be.
Mobile is great for 1) consuming content 2) interacting with your extended environment when you are not grounded to a computer (summoning an Uber, paying with an app, etc.) The money in content consumption will go to either the content creators or the digital sharecroppers (Facebook).
So the question is, are there large untapped areas where a phone could be used to interact with ones environment? What kind of day-to-day things could be enhanced with internet connected software?
As a programmer, I suspect I could probably type the entirity of a days work into the computer in a half hour.
If we count tablets as mobile too (they're wireless after all and plenty of them come with SIM slots) then the consumption part gets a bit better, in landscape mode you can read PDFs on them but the part of work that requires significant input would - for me - not be an option.
Some days, I'd totally agree with you; I'm not really sure of the next step(s), and have to give myself lots of time to think about things. This tends to apply when I'm entering unknown territory, and my tasks are relatively fuzzy and uncertain.
On the other hand, some tasks are extremely straight-forward (repetitive / memory-based), and more or less completely WPM and flow-bound. Even working with relatively efficient editors (using shortcuts, macros, VI bindings, etc), it's hard to type out (or otherwise input) much more than 2000 lines of code in a day. These types of tasks certainly require efficient input, and could be greatly enhanced by even better human-to-machine interfaces.
(I'm also a programmer, and these do come from my own experiences)
A lot of modern languages/platforms are able to be used as a REPL console. Same with commandline tools.
Being able to rapidly experiment with bits of code to identify the correct solution can be incredibly valuable.
I don't care if it's a bottle neck. I want an efficient means of typing, so that I can keep my focus on other stuff. Maybe I could do a lot of my typing using a terrible interface like my phone, but it would be very aggravating.
I never understand this prediction. That's a bit like saying I don't need a car because I could just dock my bicycle into some sort of enclosure with four wheels. Tablets, smartphones, and laptops/desktops were all built for different purposes and cannot be full replacements for each other, just like a bicycle can't fully replace a car without some serious sacrifices.
At this point, if you have anything worth securing, its probably a good bet that your device will get compromised in the next 5 years. Compartmentalized devices helps with that significantly, since it means only partial compromises.
What if an iPad Air could simple attach to a MB Air chassis and only serve as the display when attached?
Android is a bit better than iOS in this respect, but not much.
None of the mobile vendors have any incentive to change this, since it would mean forfeiting the App Store tax and for Apple would cannibalize the Mac market. The only way I see an uncrippled mobile device entering the market that is high enough quality to compete is if someone with none of these conflicting interests bucks the trend. Android is pretty forkable, so a droid fork that solved the security problems in a non-feudal way and that supported the sort of docking you describe would be disruptive.
Dell? Compaq? HP? A "washed up" PC vendor with stagnant market share would have nothing to lose and might have the resources to pull it off.
The App Store "tax"? Sure, Apple doesn't mind the cash. But they are first, second and third a hardware company: that's where the real money is. The reason they have no intention to allow side loading apps on iOS has to do with user experience, eliminating support headaches and security (order may be different, but these re the reasons).
The fact is your dream device would appeal to the same people who buy desktop Linux machines now. They exist, but they are a tiny part of the market. Nobody can stay in business catering to just those customers.
In practice this means that PCs and their unlocked OSes will continue to hold onto their market niche until or unless mobile bridges that cap.
In 5 or 10 years dockable tablets are going to be every-goddamn-where, especially in business. It just makes sense, and is too all around practical. And for most computer uses, even "intensive" ones, it's perfect. You get portability plus productivity in the docked configuration plus huge economic benefits. Tablets are mostly just screens, batteries, and a handful of chips, all of which are super amenable to economies of scale in manufacture. Tablets are going to be cheaper than dirt eventually, and because a tablet can be a self-contained computer it'll tend to be the default computing choice. The biggest thing missing today is primarily good software.
I would instead focus on the work done with virtual machines. If instead I had a subscription service to access a virtual machine that had the ability to run any application I wanted, streamed to my mobile device that would then display it anywhere I wanted. My mobile device could connect me to any amount of computing power I need (in reason and with a large enough budget).
Why on earth would I buy this whole separate machine to do this? My personal computing device that I carry around with me everywhere could allow me to perform any function possible, I could have a full desktop computer anywhere I wanted as long as I have a internet connection and a screen.
Gaming could take place anywhere as well. You wouldn't need a gaming rig, the processing power would be handled elsewhere whilst your device handles the graphics processing and streaming.
Internet speeds will have to increase exponentially, but are we really that short sighted to state that personal computers will never be replaced by mobile devices? Yes it may not happen tomorrow, but it will come
This is why I find machine learning and optimization such fascinating areas to watch. At a certain point, we may reach the practical limits of what human gestures, commands, and requests can tap into or do. The machine (or rather, the distributed ecosystem of machines) becomes more and more important in automating X, suggesting Y, and predicting Z.
I enjoy the prospects of VR and AR, especially in an omniconnected world. Those always seem like interesting use cases for a smart(er) phone. But I'm a lot more excited about the non-UI advances that the "internet of things" can bring us. When we free ourselves from the limitations of human comprehension, human attention span, and human neurological heuristics, we can do so much more. To me, the "large untapped areas" are all the things we won't have to tap to access (terrible pun intended). Before we can get there, of course, we'll have to connect all the devices.
At the risk of sounding hokey, naive, or unapologetically futurist, I look forward to the day when kids will say, "Wow. When you were my age, you actually had to touch things to make them work?"
Obviously flesh blood is a good thing, however, this problem space has been thoroughly explored.
The real unexplored area is that few people have noticed just how insanely powerful the GPUs in these devices are, but again the problem is in working out what they might be useful for, especially given the trend is for mobile "apps" to really be trivial front ends for web services.
Yep. After doing mobile for a while you start to notice that most apps are just listviews hitting REST endpoints. Not exactly earth-shattering technology.
Keyboard for text entry coding, digitizers for design/art/photo-work and possibly (multi)touch for richer, Smalltalk-like UIs. I've always thought three-button mouse weren't such a great idea (ergonomically) -- but a lot of the same things that work well with them (Smalltalk, ACME), should work fine with multi-touch -- as long as we evolve the GUIs a bit to take proper advantage.
I have had an iPad since the first version. I also have had various touchscreen "tablet" PCs prior. The problem is not the hardware now its the software -- and the software has gotten so, so, so much better. I can do real work from a tablet and a phone. The best practices devs first discovered and now proliferating more widely. That takes time but we are seeing the results now.
The former is almost certainly false. I'm not going to be drafting briefs on an iPad any time soon, nor are CPA's going to be poring over spreadsheets on iPads. On the other hand, the proportion of overall technology users that need to do these things is shrinking because of all the new users coming online who use technology for consumer and social media purposes. E.g. there are far more kids using tablets and phones, who never used a desktop computer before, than there are CPA's hunkered down in front of giant Excel spreadsheets. So the latter is almost certainly true.
A good point of comparison is the 3D graphics market. Initially, it was primarily used for CAD, etc. But consumer 3D exploded, and because it was such a bigger market, all the R&D effort migrated in that direction. Workstation users still exist today, as many as ever did, but now they use re-purposed consumer hardware.
I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens to people who use desktop and laptop computers. I imagine I'll still be drafting briefs on my Mac 20 years from now, but my Mac will probably be re-purposed mobile technology.
You clearly don't work for baby boomers. My partners love that shit.
The number of use cases is less important.
What are the most common use cases?
You're conflating people that use computers as part of their job incidentally, with people that use a computer because their job inherently necessitates one. Refer to this article about the most common occupations in the US: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-10-m...
Managing emails, customer relationship software, and checking websites are often the extent of how a person uses a computer at their job.
> So we find ourselves in the ironic situation of a domain that is experiencing almost unprecedented growth but in which almost nobody is making money except Facebook and the vendors of what are essentially gimmicky slot machine games.
Business facing software never gets mainstream news whether it's mobile or not. It just so happens that most new and popular consumer focused technology is mobile / web.
Making news =/= making money.
Microsoft, Oracle, etc. make gobs of money selling to business and enterprise customers. You never hear about it because it's uninteresting.
In the same vein, you don' hear about business software that runs on mobile. "Make my business software work on mobile" is a booming category of work in software development.
> People that need to edit complex spreadsheets, compose scores for films, analyze genomes, and render 3d effects need real computers.
In the cases you suggested you propose that it's different. However, they might need the physical interface of a real computer, or the technical power of a real computer, but they don't really need a "real computer"
- traditional input devices (keyboards) are increasingly compatible with mobile hardware
- tablets and cell phones are only getting MORE powerful, not less
It's really just a matter of time before the line between mobile and desktop disappears.
Part of what's keeping it there is simply the fact that desktop class hardware from the last 2004 is still good enough to do what most people need to do in 2014
For some people, it's not the input that matters, or the computing power, but the output. Big, high-res displays are still in demand. I'm not sure wearable displays will ever replace them -- even if Glass gets to be much higher than its current 640x320 resolution, it's a lot more difficult to shift your focus from one part of the "screen" to another if it's being projected directly into your eye.
I have played a bit with a very preliminary version of "Virtual Desktop" (1) and it is shockingly usable even at the current low res of Oculus
With a properly built out VR desktop that allows for multiple "monitors" or workspaces + mobile VR tech a few piterations out I think it's in the cards that our current Pc form factor dramatically changes or blends towards truly mobile hardware
"I'm trying to think of a good analogy. When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this transformation is going to make some people uneasy... because the PC has taken us a long way. They were amazing. But it changes. Vested interests are going to change. And, I think we've embarked on that change. Is it the iPad? Who knows? Will it be next year or five years? ... We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it's uncomfortable."
It's amazing that a "cross-over" is considered a truck, when there's practically nothing in common. At least the SUV shares the same chassis as a truck in most cases.
Going back to Jobs point, I would be interested in some historical numbers. The truck's healthy market share might just be due to the popularity of the SUV.
This is true, but the point is that this is now a very small (and very rapidly shrinking) fraction of what constitutes "computing".
Digital photography - used to involve a PC, doesn't need to now. Casual video editing (which lets remember is the vast majority of video editing) - used to involve a PC, doesn't need to now. E-mail and electronic communications - used to involve a PC, doesn't need to now. Basic productivity/note taking/sorting/keeping - used to... you get the picture.
It's not just that SmartPhones/tablets are replacing some PC tasks, it's that there is a whole new swath of users for whom what might previously have been thought of as computing has nothing to do with a PC.
Think of it in terms of shooting video. 40 years ago if you were shooting video there would be a good chance you were some sort of professional (or at the very least an enthusiastic amateur). Now, if you're shooting video, you're probably just a regular person. That doesn't mean that Smartphones have changed what professionals do or use, but it does mean that professionals are a very small fraction of the video now being shot.
The PC is the same, it's still there and still needed, it's just shrinking in terms of it's proportion of what's being done.
That's a bit of a red herring. One of my colleagues uses a Surface; the first thing she does on arriving at the office is plug two cables to work with a proper screen and keyboard. Then when she has a meeting, she simply unplugs and uses it as a tablet, which is useful for passing it around, etc.
People that need to edit complex spreadsheets, compose scores for films, analyze genomes, and render 3d effects need real computers. As a developer this kind of customer is in many ways a better customer to serve than a teen snapping selfies on a phone.
But in between those sits 90% of the market, which is everyone who works all day with not-that-complex Office documents (certainly stuff that can be handled by a quadcore, 2GB machine) and web apps which offload most work to the servers (third-party or internal).
I may be biased because we provide solutions on top of a web-based, Free Software platform (https://www.odoo.com/), but I believe most of our clients' workers could replace their laptops with tablets + stand without any loss of functionality.
And, even if we do see an increase in more hybrid devices like the Surface, you can't just blow up a touch screen app to 24". Specialized tasks will still require specialized software.
Fair enough. You pay for the extra power, though; you can buy two iPad Air 2 for the price of the cheapest 13-inch Macbook Air.
Consider his use metonymic and look at the picture on page 28. When you see "mobile" see "extremely personal device that you interact with ubiquitously and almost continuously, with sensors so it senses your movements, listens to you even when you are not explicitly manipulating it, and is constantly connected." Today, essentially the only devices like that are phones.
But his core points are:
- You no longer sit down to have a "computing experience" -- it's increasingly part of the fabric of society and life
- This will only accelerate and new devices and modes and capabilities will flourish and extend it
- This shift is transformational, not incremental.
- Almost any plan that made sense a few years ago is now irrelevant.
These are concepts that are so clear that they simultaneously appear banal and yet will go unrecognized by most people even as they are being planed by these "banal truths".
Spot on. I've been a follower of his for some time now and while he's obviously smart an insightful, he does sometimes veer into hyperbole bordering on know-it-all snark. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, other than that the audience might not take it as seriously as an argument made more rationally.
Working in the industrial and automotive manufacturer setup, people buying equipment don't give a shit whether a touch screen is an actual improvement for the people on the shop floor. They buy anything that looks like a tablet and has a touch screen, as much as the workers might curse it.
Seriously, who is this guy?
The big disappointment of mobile is that all this stuff doesn't seem to result in enabling people to do their jobs better or more easily. Web apps really exploded with things like Basecamp, but the most mobile has brought along for that seems to be mobile email. (Edit to add, the only exceptions I can think of to this are actually the SMS apps deployed in the places pegged to explode in smartphone usage).
Having lots of people mindlessly addicted to notifications is not really that interesting.
How do I get somewhere? Google maps will tell me the route, another app is telling me when the bus next comes.
Where should I eat in this brand new city? Yelp will find me somewhere good.
Coffee (I'm not a fan of American style drip coffee)? Yelp again.
What should I check out today? Originally fully researched before leaving the apartment/hotel, now I go to breakfast and look around, if it rains halfway through the day I can come up with a new plan that involves being inside.
Getting my boarding pass? No longer do I need to print anything, just show them my screen and they can scan the barcode off that.
Want to call home? No need for an expensive phone card, I can just use whatsapp or viber to chat to my parents.
Get in a cab and don't want to be ripped off because of accent? Maps again ("please take the FDR, the traffic there isn't too bad").
For work: My contract is currently approaching it's end, I managed to set up two interviews in my home from another country while on the go, never having to stop and pull out my laptop
I would say that without my smartphone I would have had to spend a lot of time asking locals, researching on a computer ahead of time, and generally looking like a tourist with a massive tourist map (a good way to get pick pocketed). As a result I was able to do most of my research on the move and really streamline my holiday to something where I didn't need to sit down for a couple hours each night to work out what to do tomorrow.
So I'm a contrarian even though I've been building mobile apps for the last four years. The desktop seems like both a vastly more interesting but likely also more lucrative place to be for a developer.
While I disagree with that notion, I also wonder why the focus on merely jobs. Smartphones and mobile devices have enabled people's lives to be much easier. Not more than 10 minutes ago I just determined the optimal route to a meeting, factoring in real-time traffic (measured by phones) and overlapping mass transit lines. If I'm late or my meeting partner isn't there ("there" being a location determined by ratings on Yelp's app, as the meeting was scheduled via my phone during another meeting), I have instant access to him and vice versa. Just the first example that comes to mind.
There are, literally, dozens of expensive devices that have been replaced by free/inexpensive smartphone apps in the past few years, to say nothing of smartphones enabling us to do things we never even thought of a few years ago. In 2014, it is possible for the middle class to take timelapse aerial video from a drone and edit/upload/share it remotely via phone in a matter of minutes. I cannot imagine what will be possible in a mere two years, when apps have replaced even more expensive things and enabled us to do things heretofore unconsidered.
look into wechat to see the future of mobile apps. it's basically a whole platform running within the chat app. communication, meetings, shopping, ...
billions of people will only own a smartphone, not a desktop, ever. hence the ever growing screen sizes of the Notes, 6 Pluses of this world.
The genius is you use it to provide services to people that only have SMS, and this is why the "smartphones will change everything" noise is misplaced, as the reality is north americans never lived in a context with a functioning SMS ecosystem thanks to having such inept telecoms regulators, so they just don't know what the rest of the world is like.
Work computers have remained relatively static by comparison in capabilities, numbers, usage and usage type.
Perhaps it is just me but I find a smartphone incredibly useless for anything but the most passive of tasks.
If I want to "do something" I use a computer. "Something" being defined very loosely. Do rather than consume. Even doing something for leisure since 99% of "doing" tasks are very difficult to do on a phone for me - if that makes any sense.
Office workers however are most likely not going to swap out their PC in the foreseeable future, in terms of speed and usability their are still way ahead of any mobile device (laptops excluded of cause).
Yes, mobile is just as important, if not more, that PCs in some industries. If you do online commerce, entertainment and consumer facing services ignoring mobile would be foolish. For other industries you can safely ignore mobile for now.
Lets say I want to book a hotel. On a laptop or desktop I can do a few searches extremely fast, open up a few tabs and switch between them almost instantly to compare. My "work" gets done extremely quickly I am very happy with the results. Well I once had to book a hotel in a bar on my phone. Dreadful experience if you want to do any sort of comparison shopping at all, and I have a pretty new phone.
Of course mobile is extremely excellent for some things but very bad for what I consider "getting something done." That's simply my personal experience though.
I think this varies. I'm not a grandparent, but am close to 50 years old and have been working in computer technology my entire adult life. I have an Android smartphone (got my first one this year) but have not installed any apps on it. Email, web browser, text messages, calendar, contacts, and maps are all there and I can't really think of anything else useful I'd want it to do.
My mother-in-law on the other hand IS a grandmother and she's constantly using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and half a dozen other things on her phone. I don't see the point in any of it and don't use any of those things.
Not sure who is the outlier.
Too many blackholes for your message to fall into. Too many spammers, I block 90% of around 100,000 messages a day. Too many servers use unreliable blacklists. No notification anything has gone wrong.
Some people here have said "mobile has peaked". I go around with my Android mobile phone, and I have trouble finding out what time stores close. I have trouble finding nearby supermarkets. I certainly can't find out if supermarkets have an item in stock, or if the item on sale. I can't find a nearby bathroom to use.
We are nowhere near mobile peaking. Yes, there may be a little bubble now that fizzles out before it comes back again. Kind of like how there was a website bubble, which fizzled in 2000, and then four years later Facebook was started. The day I can punch into my phone asking where I can buy a chair, and get back most of the local stores, and what they have in stock, and for what price - that is when the "smartphone bubble" is soon to "burst".
So, while we may not be peaked in terms of what could be done, we're nearing the point where what WILL be done is starting to look more and more focused on the things that grab quick money.
Oddly, I think the next big revolution will be the generation that's tired of being chained to their devices and subscriptions and services, and starts to devolve back to actual interpersonal relationships. I'm seeing it every day with those of us who grew up without it, had it, and realized that it's not quite the silver bullet for living it marketed itself as.
Siri still sucks, Google maps still gets you lost, and visual studio still blows on a touchscreen laptop.
I think the challenges are of a more political nature than technological.
I really miss them :-(
* Other than Blackberry. Despite being a BB10 user, I can understand why the general population isn't attracted to it.
We know technology is a big game changer. Sometimes we overestimate that impact, but sometimes we underestimate it too. What will it do for everyone to have a smartphone? Heck if I know! But perhaps it's reason for at least a smidge of hope.
Deep inside we all are shockingly selfish and lazy little animals. We all take the easiest road, at least what for our selfish desires seems to be the easiest road. Sometimes, it's looks like a hard or unselfish road on the outside, but needed to fullfill our own selfish needs. Even buddisths are selfish, as they try to be free from selfish desires for the selfish reason of reduce pain in their live.
There's always a melt down of higher cultures. People having all the tools to fullfill their basic needs loose the drive to achieve. That's why I generally see this "we make the world a better place with all our great services" direction quite sceptical. It was never easier to distract ourselves with mobile devices, but do we benefit? No, Apple, Google, FB, MS and Amazon do.
BTW: One of my favorite movies is Idiocracy :-)
No, that's not true at all. They are more compact and with the touch HID more frustrating but certainly far from better.
Anyway, my main point was that culture was the reason for the dark ages, not ability to do things. And smartphones don't override culture.
What does override culture?
Talking to the people around you? Newspapers? Books? Telephones? Peoples options? News?
Culture: the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
If you don't think that an instantaneous audio/graphical communications device cannot be used as a means to effect culture you are highly confused about what culture is.
As I said, smartphones morph culture in interesting ways. That's a direct product of having access to all of the things you mention. But people are still fundamentally people. If the world believes that war is necessary, smartphones aren't going to change that. And that belief was one of the main reasons for the dark ages.
The rest of your response is static and not applicable. You don't have information to back up your response, plus it's wrong.
But once we get past this early stage of mobile success people will be looking to gain more productivity out of their devices. Today have the power and OS chops to handle beefy tasks, but for the most part the UX and peripheral experience isn't there. But that'll change. There will be more attachable keyboards, more desktop docking stations, etc. And then the use of tablets and smartphones in business will drive the manufacturers to service that market more and more to meet those needs.
Meanwhile, the low end of mobile will get cheaper as the developing world starts to gain access to computing and folks find out how valuable that market is and figure out how to serve it.
This is the 2nd wave of the personal computing revolution and it's only just barely started, what we'll see in the next 10 years will blow the doors off the last decade.
The smartphone was not a better phone but a smaller computer. The idea that mobile is somehow replacing most of the other platforms and their usage is simply misplaced.
Mobile is part of a diverting technology trend not converging.
First, folks tend to talk about all the things that the new technology can't do that the old one does do. In the Steve Jobs interview at All Things D referenced in the comments, he goes on to talk about how software needs to get written--"it is just software" he says. In the near term history we have seen this same dynamic in the advent of the GUI relative to CUI or in the way browser/HTML subsumed the GUI client-server apps. People are writing more code all the time that is "mobile only" even if some of it reinvents or reimagines the desktop/laptop world. I was struck by Adobe's recent developer conference where they showed many mobile apps. As an always aspiring photog we can see how the field is transitioning.
Second, people tend to underestimate the way that new tools, as ineffective as they are, drive changes in the very definition of work. Said another way, people forget that tools can also define the work and jobs people have. It isn't like work was always "mail around a 10MB presentation before the meeting". In fact a long time ago meeting agendas were typed out in courier by a typist -- that job was defined by the Selectric. The tools that created presentations, attachments, and follow up email defined a style of working. While we're reading all this, the exponential rise of mobile is changing what it means to work--to go to a meeting, to collaborate, to decide, to create, etc.
What is so fascinating about this transition is that we might be seeing a divide where creators of tools will use different tools, at least for some time, than the masses that use tools. Let's not project the needs of developers on to the whole space. We might reach a point where different tools are needed. Two years ago I might have said this applies to a lot of fields, but the rapid rise of mobile and tablet based software for many things is making that argument weak. Cash registers, MRI machines, video annotation, and more are all scenarios I have seen recently where one might have said "needs a real OS" or "this need sa full PC". As with the the idea of underestimating software, our own desire to find an anchor pushes us to view things through a lens where our own work doesn't change.
All of this is happening. In parts of the world they are skipping over PCs (Africa and China). Everyone is seeing their time in front of a screen go up enormous amounts and most of that is additive, but for many there is a substitute effect. This doesn't happen overnight or for everyone. TO deny it though is to deny the very changes that led to supporting the idea that the mouse, overlapping windows, and color once displaced other technologies where people said those were not substitutes for the speed, efficiency, or capabilities of what was in use.
The theory is that disruptive technologies start as toys that can't handle the original workload, not that toys that can't handle the workload become disruptive technologies.
Smartphones and tablets are interesting, they may enable new applications, they take over some of the functionality of desktops and laptops but it's more of a continuum than a very strong difference, you go from small and on your person to phablets (what a word), tablets, laptops, touch screen all-in-one PCs, regular PCs all the way to servers.
So mobile simply completed the spectrum and as long as there is a fashion element to it they'll be sold in very large numbers (the fact that the batteries die is another push to upgrade them, ditto laptops).
In the longer term it will slow down a bit but mobile phones will always be sold in larger numbers than desktop computers because of these reasons.
There is one way in which 'mobile is eating the world', which is in terms of resources consumption, and that is going to be a real problem without better and more structured ways of thinking about disposing phones during the design phase as well as some kind of rebate program.
There won't be any "convergence" until mobile OSes are uncrippled.
I personally see a three device ecosystem. Mobile will cut into PC on the low end, but it's really growing into a space not served by PC or server. Computing in general is expanding.
You can develop an Android app on an Android device.
cannot effectively develop a mobile app on a mobile device.
Productivity largely correlates with screensize.
An analogy: writing and production tools have been getting better with output to PDF, Kindle, iBook, and print books. The overhead for creativity decreases so more effort goes to producing great content. This is what I would like for interactive web applications.
There is a lot of niche content and special interests and there will continue to be a wide range of devices. Lots very inexpensive phones in developing countries and a wide range of devices upscale. Content providers and application developers should have access to all users, world wide, with low development overhead.
After 5 minutes on a iphone or android phone I am like f* this give me a damn desktop.
Eventually mobile devices will be inexpensive, and this will help usher in the next wave of mobile adoption. Mobile devices will start making inroads in the workplace as they start to replace laptops and desktops (docking stations and keyboard "laptop" adapters will become more widespread). Mobile OSes will see forks which cater to corporate IT needs, etc. More importantly, mobile will be how most of the developing world gets online. Battery powered, wireless self-contained computing devices are almost a perfect fit for places without developed world infrastructure. Smartphones and tablets don't require constant internet connections to be useful. Imagine how valuable a tablet that can help teach people to read, indeed to learn almost anything, help people stay in touch with others, and connect people to the 21st century global economy can be for anyone. Computers are going to have a profound impact on the development of the world in the 21st century and mobile is going to be a huge part of it.
People have been saying exactly the same thing since the first VR came about. For some reason, VR really excited some people. Even though there is no way it is replacing a computer or a smartphone, since they have different uses.
Unless you are suggesting VR will improve writing emails or entering data into a spreadsheet?
Of course VR won't replace a smartphone or a computer. It's a completely different tool solving a completely different problem.
>Unless you are suggesting VR will improve writing emails or entering data into a spreadsheet?
Reminds me of the comments people first made about the iPhone when it came out; like "how are you supposed to type without a physical keyboard?" It's an inability to think creatively. VR isn't going to improve writing emails or entering data into a spreadsheet, those activities are already well served by laptops. Use your imagination. VR will help you buy your next car because you can actually sit and test drive hundreds before you try the real thing. VR will let you visit other countries before you plan an expensive vacation. VR will let you connect with your friends across the world in ways you simply cannot do today. VR will let you walk around in your custom built home before a single nail is driven.
> People have been saying exactly the same thing since the first VR came about.
So the value is obvious, then. It's just that the technology hasn't been there to make it viable. People were talking up handheld devices for years as well, but it wasn't until it became technologically feasible to create a user friendly experience that it finally exploded in popularity.
I don't know if that was a common conception at the time; after all touch-screen kiosks have been common since the 1990s. And Palm had discarded physical keyboards in their PDAs as far back as 1996.
More it was a case of 'typing will be much less efficient without a keyboard', which was true and has only been addressed by lateral thinking such as Swype, an analogue of which Apple have finally implemented after five generations.
 or, as I've just been reminded, Graffiti on the Palm PDAs
I'm not disagreeing with your complaint, I just really hate the way you framed it.