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Mobile is Eating the World (a16z.com)
311 points by tomazstolfa on Oct 28, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments

There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile.

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.

> Yes the growth of mobile is explosive and, in some cases, it's displacing older technology.

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.

Very well put.

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.

My experience of watching kids (ranging from 3 to 15 years old) use this stuff is, in order of level of use/desire to own: Smartphones, tablets, <moderately large gap>, PCs/laptops. As a proportion of use, parents are more likely to use a PC/laptop than kids.

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.

> A lot of gaming is phone/tablet rather than a PC.

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 have this theory the so called breakthrough of Apple in the TV business is the iPad and not a big 5k TV screen.

Ben Evans himself says that Eric Schmidt was right when he said Google would own the TV market a few years back - he (Schmidt) just didn't realise it would be Android tablets rather than GoogleTV.

Slightly off topic here but I still think a large part of that is due to hostility from more traditional content providers. The promise of GoogleTV (that was mostly squashed before it had a chance to mature) was that it provided a front-end for content on more traditional satellite/cable services as well as for finding all of the free streams available on network websites and newer platforms like Youtube and Vimeo.

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.

And they also didn't realized that it would be the iPad and not Android tablets.

The latter have not been making any inroads...

You need to think outside of the US.

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.

Well, I spent my time in S.E. Asia and people either don't have a tablet at all, or more frequently they have an iPad. For every Samsumg I see there are like 2 or 3 iPads.

Now, I'm in perhaps the richer country of the whole region.

Your anecdotal evidence appears wrong:

"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)."



> an iPhone is primarily a communications device

That's why I've started calling them 'personal communicators' instead of 'phones'. Sounds a bit more Star Treky as well :)

> They're only replacing PCs to the extent that the PC had already partially replaced some of those things.

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.

> I think the mischaracterization is of what mobile is replacing. It isn't the PC.

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.

If you look at the biomechanics, it does seem like a keyboard + mouse + >=20" screen is the optimal setup for doing actual work. A keyboard is simply the most efficient way to get information into a computer (the exception is that some graphics editors work might work better with a multitouch screen, it will be interesting to see if someone builds a touch-first photoshop killer). That said, there might be a convergence where mobile devices learn to run desktop software, and can be docked to a mouse/keyboard/monitor. But we are still a long ways from that point, and there is no great incentive to build office suites for mobile devices that are efficient for power/work users.

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?

Your assumption, which I think is wrong, is that WPM (or maybe APM) is the bottleneck for most work. I suspect reading/comprehension, problem solving, planning, usability, and access to the right tool, discovery of tools, responsiveness of tools, teamwork... These things are much more likely to be the bottleneck.

As a programmer, I suspect I could probably type the entirity of a days work into the computer in a half hour.

I can't even read a phone screen without reading glasses on, I absolutely loathe reading more than a paragraph of text on one and I really couldn't imagine getting any significant amount of work done on a mobile platform.

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.

I suspect that this is highly related to the task being done, and the context.

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)

I think you're right on some counts, but there is a part that I think most people overlook when they dismiss rapid input as being a useful feature.

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.

Yes, but it takes you the rest of the day to edit and test the 30 minutes of typing you are ready to ship. Presumably, most of this testing or editing would involve a fair amount of keyboard interaction.

> Your assumption, which I think is wrong, is that WPM (or maybe APM) is the bottleneck for most work.

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.

> That said, there might be a convergence where mobile devices learn to run desktop software, and can be docked to a mouse/keyboard/monitor.

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.

Even if I had a full scale performance in a cell phone with great docking capabilities, I probably would rather have a separate desktop computer for working. Just being able to compartmentalize "social stuff" on my phone, and "work stuff" on a desktop tends to vastly improve my performance.

Isn't that easily solved with logins?

It's a psychological thing, not a technical problem.

To expand on it, its also a security thing. Having my phone with a network of personal contacts and my computer with more work related data means a separate of attack surface.

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.

That strikes me as a lousy comparison. I could easily see a notebook with a detachable touchscreen and the proper OS (OSes?) being a useful machine (easier to see since a reasonably selling device actually exists).

What if an iPad Air could simple attach to a MB Air chassis and only serve as the display when attached?

It's not a hardware limit that keeps mobile from wholly eating desktop, but a software one. Mobile OSes are intentionally crippled and locked down at the OS layer. You don't own or control your device, and only approved software can run.

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.

Apple loves to canibalize itself. iPod, which used to be 50% of the company: practically gone, totally canibalized by the iPhone. The iPad has already eaten plenty of Mac, outselling it between 2:1 & 3:1. The idea that if only the iPad were less locked down it would sell more and canibalize the Mac, thus Apple doesn't allow it, is absurd.

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.

Most people don't see the lack of control over their mobile devices as a problem. Instead, they see it as a good thing, because their mobile devices are a lot more worry-free than their computers.

It's not just a political issue -- I agree that most people don't care about that stuff. It also grossly limits what you can do.

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.

What about Ubuntu and Firefox? Those are uncrippled, I hope.

Not the same thing.

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 don't believe you are truly understanding the potential. Nor is that even close to proper analogy. You are presuming that all of the desktop software will be running on the mobile device, which will need all this power and can't possibly handle it.

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

It baffles me. Look at the cost of components for any smartphone. The cost of a full-fledged ARM SOC is, what... $20? The cost to turn any such docking station into an actual computer is basically trivial compared to the total cost. You can sync storage over the network without any need for a dock. Why on earth would anyone get a phone dock, rather than a separate machine?

"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?"

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?"

Gestures are much less efficient than using a mouse or touchscreen, gestures require more muscles and movement and are less precise. Voice commands beyond the very simple stuff is an AI complete problem. True AI is much further away than we think. And when it comes it will be so deeply weird and also mind-blowing that asking it to buy us plane tickets via voice command or whatever will be the last thing that we would be worried about.

How about eye?

Right, and on your last point, that's almost exactly what the NFC industry has been trying to do for years. Most successful mobile ticketing deployments seem to use the barcode-a-like on a screen approach thanks to NFC not really getting very far. It will be curious to see if Apple manage to get any traction here.

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.

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.

Agreed. Except I think proper styluses/digitizers, like what I gather one gets with the Surface Pro, and I enjoy on my Samsung Note 3 hold much better potential than multi-touch (there's a reason why artists and designers have been using digitizers for a long time).

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.

Clip Studio Paint has a really good touch UI. It doesn't replace Photoshop for photographers, but for illustrators it certainly acts as a replacement.

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.

I think there is u between two different concepts: 1) mobile will replace existing uses of technology; 2) most of the growth of technology will be in mobile.

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.

>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.

You clearly don't work for baby boomers. My partners love that shit.

> But for a lot of use cases small touch screen devices are simply inadequate.

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

> " traditional input devices (keyboards) are increasingly compatible with mobile hardware"

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.

Glass is not projected into your eye, it is simply a screen placed near your eye, with special optics so you can actually focus on it.

There is a good chance that VR done right for mobile - Samsung Gear via Oculus being the first - will change the game.

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

(1) https://developer.oculusvr.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=8...

Steve Jobs had a good quote on this:

"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."

That seems like a very silly analogy Steve made. By percentage, ya more autos were trucks back in the day, but there are more 'trucks' on the road than ever before. From small light duty trucks to gigantic semi's with an army of axles under them we are no closer to post-truck then we were when they owned the road.

It's the same thing with the PC. People look at the PC numbers declining, but that's the sales numbers, not the installed base. People haven't stopped using their PCs, they've just stopped upgrading them.

Best selling car in the US is, and has been for years, the Ford F-150.

Yes, hard to believe by looking out at my parking lot and what I notice on the freeway, but pickups are about an eighth of the market, according to this: http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

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.

Developers: We're the Sharecroppers for the Future!

> 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.

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.

But for a lot of use cases small touch screen devices are simply inadequate.

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.

It's worth keeping in mind that there's a countervailing trend though. Conventional laptops are getting lighter and last a lot longer on a charge. The extra bulk of something like a current Macbook Air vs an iPad isn't much but it's a vastly more capable machine.

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.

Conventional laptops are getting lighter and last a lot longer on a charge.

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.

And it should be pretty easy to get rid of the cables (Airplay + Bluetooth).

> I find Evans' analysis of mobile a bit hyperbolic....for a lot of use cases small touch screen devices are simply inadequate.

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".

> I find Evans' analysis of mobile a bit hyperbolic.

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.

Well, I'd say you completely missed by a light year the whole point of the presentation. The reality is that the impact of mobile on the planet probably remains understated. There will continue to be an explosion of mobile devices, not even accounting for wearables, sensors, etc. While the desktop remains relatively unchanged for a decode or two.

Of course they will need to do those things. We also still need to process credit card transactions, and we still use mainframes to do it, and IBM still makes a tidy income selling and servicing them. But I don't think anyone would consider us to be living in the era of the mainframe. The point isn't that the old stuff goes away, but that they lose their positions as the center of gravity.

> But for a lot of use cases small touch screen devices are simply inadequate.

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.

"A bit" ... ><

Seriously, who is this guy?

Is this actually true? My perception is that the smartphone bubble is bursting. Yes, there are lots more people to come online, but all they're going to do is use WhatsApp and Facebook.

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.

Your focus on jobs and notifications is a little frustrating as there's a lot more to life than working. For example, I just traveled to the USA for the first time.

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.

This answer is excellent. It's also a great example of how technology just disappears and allows you to get what you want to get done.

Completely agree with this. We've reached the same point we did with laptops a few years ago where making hardware more powerful doesn't improve the user experience much. Phones from different manufacturers are more or less interchangeable and there's not much incentive for an owner of last year's model to upgrade to this year's model. Both of the leading app stores are full of gimmicky junk and the leaderboards are increasingly stagnant. The prospect for indie mobile developers with new ideas is grim in 2014. Users are settling into patterns with a handful of established apps and it turns out there's just not that much you can do as a developer with nothing more than a 5" touch screen.

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.

> "all this stuff doesn't seem to result in enabling people to do their jobs better or more easily..."

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.

western tunnelvision.

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.

I certainly don't have western tunnel vision. One of my favourite Android apps is this: http://textit.in/ (Note where it's made).

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.

Well, I guess you've completely missed that it's not about improving work, it's about improving non-work such as entertainment, leisure and healthcare.

Work computers have remained relatively static by comparison in capabilities, numbers, usage and usage type.

Perhaps it is just me but I include "getting stuff done" as part of "work."

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.

I would agree with you, but the majority seems to be against us. Personally I find the usability on smartphones, and iPads, frustratingly poor. Even something like browsing the web is pretty much impossible, navigation is awkward, keyboard is rubbish and the speed is terrible. That being said I think there's only a few of us that forgo smart phones and tables for a laptop or even desktop PC.

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.

I guess if you spend most of your time at a desk. But that sounds dreadful to me.

I'm not sure what you mean?

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.

From one of the slides: Email is for grandparents

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.

Yeah, my email usage at age 12-15 was also almost nil and that was in the 90s. Doubt stats at 12-15 correlate well to whether those kids will use email when they hit college.

Agreed, I didn't have much use for email at 15, because I interacted with all my classmates and teachers every day; coordinating things was simple, and all my schoolwork was submitted in person. I primarily used email for asking questions on Linux mailing lists, and even that pretty rarely--15 year old me would probably be pretty shocked at my current level of email traffic.

I'd say it depends. I'm a 30 year old Linux/Windows system engineer, spend too much spare time reading about distributed systems and programming matters, but really only use my phone(Nexus5) the same with the addition of pager duty and the odd boarding pass. The "basics" really. My mate is 7 years younger in the same industry and I don't believe he's snapgrams or instachats. Partner doesn't even want a smartphone because she's afraid she'll lose it. My father uses Facebook way more than I do.

While e-mail may not be perfect, it still seems to be the best medium there is for people who collaborate best via asynchronous communication. The antipattern of using more synchronous media -- the telephone, in particular -- to force quick decisions is obnoxious and I think ultimately counterproductive.

This is exactly why I think Talko is so cool. Not quite a replacement for email, but has some good ideas.

When I saw that slide I said to myself "rather, email is for people who have a job". But who knows, maybe that generation will reject email and create some brilliant collaboration tools that are modeled more after the instant messaging model? Was Wave just ahead of it's time?

Email is for people who don't like reliable communication.

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.

You know I used to keep in touch with people primarily through emails. I don't know when, but recently - most of my communication switched to messaging apps like messenger iMessage and whatsapp. I never thought it would happen. I tripped onto email. Now I realize it's pretty good. I still do pump out emails for more formal writing through and longer messaging, but truth of the matter is with messaging apps I'm in contact with more people with shorter more personalized bursts of information.

I mainly program Android apps, many for my side business.

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".

And on that note, the more places mobile puts it's fingers, ultimately, the more places that someone needs to make sure the finger points to the right thing. Every google maps, yelp review, craigslist post, etc., needs someone ultimately to vet it's place in reality before said reality can be made useless by it. I think we're on the cusp of mobile overload, where we're going to see more and more specialized mobile services made useless because we simply don't have the manpower to wire them up well without taking that manpower from something else.

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.

These new functionalities you speak of in the future like finding what items are in stock nearby are all more of an information gathering exercise rather that technological. We could do all that you talk about now but it would require a massive unified collaboration with shop owners for example to adhere so a common data interchange standard.

I think the challenges are of a more political nature than technological.

My smartphone has 2 Gigs of RAM and most of it is wasted. Games on phones aren't even interesting because my fingers slide right off the screen when the action gets fast. Give me a PC with 2 Gigs of RAM and I can do amazing things with it, a mouse and a keyboard. Every single phone app I use is an exercise in futility or it feels that way. Touch is a terrible HID. Smart phones are handy when you don't have anything else but man I really prefer anything else, I'm considering buying a Chrome laptop or Surface if I can wipe them and install Ubuntu on them and can plug in a SIM card; not a bigger phone, a real computer.

Remember when phones had keyboards? Like, actual physical keyboards that slid out when you needed them and tucked away neatly when you didn't?

I really miss them :-(

Given how huge the mobile phone industry, it don't understand why some manufacturer* hasn't carved out a niche for keyboard phones. Since all the manufactures have arrived at the roughly the same form factor and spec, maybe we'll start to see one of them try something different again.

* Other than Blackberry. Despite being a BB10 user, I can understand why the general population isn't attracted to it.

You know, maybe it's time to see about sourcing a small keyboard, 4.5" or so display, and trying to squeeze down an Odroid to make your own phone. Might even make sense to make it wifi only and rely on Voip for some use cases.

I always found that they keyboards weren't much better than on-screen. I make about the same number of typos either way, and frankly my corporate Blackberry's keyboard is a travesty. Little tiny keys with shitty action, your fingers slipping from one to the other. The original Motorola Droid had a decent keyboard, which was sort of nice in the days of itty-bitty screens, but these days if you offered me a Nexus 5 with keyboard I'd say "No, thanks, I'm good."

The best Android experience I ever had was an HTC Touch Pro 2. Amazingly, this was a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone that you could install Android on with a bit of a hack. The keyboard was sublime; running a terminal was a thing of beauty. Now every touch screen is a pathetic piece of junk where you have to retype stuff three times just to get the right word, and of course typing while using the full screen is out of the question.

Of course, it's also possible I'm just incredibly fat-fingered.

By these figures, 80% of the world will be carrying a mobile spy tool by 2020. I refuse to do anything on a mobile phone that is conceivably worse than PG-13. Until mobile hardware is free and open, I only view the proliferation of mobile Internet as a tool for human enslavement.

Its not like PC hardware is open fully.

It can be though, and generally is more open than any mobile hardware.


The western world right now is in a bit of a defeatist mood and pessimism reigns supreme. And while I can't deny that all things end and in some sense civilization is scheduled for some receding, I find myself wondering what impact this sort of technology will have on that process. Technology is speeding everything up so much and so fast... what if technology speeds up our next "dark age" from centuries to decades... or decade... or mere years? What if we're even already halfway through the decline?

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.

Well, smartphones simply enable you to do things that you can't otherwise do. I don't think they'll have much of an effect on how long our next Dark Ages lasts. The dark ages were primarily due to culture, not ability. Smartphones enable culture to morph in interesting ways, but they don't override it. People will still be people.

But as people will still be people, ability to get what we want easily also drives culture.

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 :-)

>> Well, smartphones simply enable you to do things that you can't otherwise do.

No, that's not true at all. They are more compact and with the touch HID more frustrating but certainly far from better.

People take exponentially more photos and videos now that they have smartphones. That's the definition of "enable people to do something they can't otherwise do."

The guy said, "smartphones simply enable you to do things that you can't otherwise do". People were taking pictures with their cameras long before smartphones and uploading them. I was using Microsoft StreetMaps (I think that was the name) and a $100 GPS serial device to map trips around the SFBA. People have used a compass to navigate for thousands of years. So yes, smartphones don't do things you can't do otherwise; they are just compact and more fun, if you can them in your pocket. If you can't then you might want to look at a small laptop or notebook, more bang for the buck.

I don't know why this is controversial. You aren't going to carry a camera around with you everywhere you go, nor a GPS, nor a laptop. But you'll carry your smartphone. So you can do more things because you have your smartphone with you.

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.

>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.

Another day, another snarky HN comment...

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.


That's a cynical view. How about: people of every age and level of experience bring what they have to the discussion, and learn from one another. You could do that too, by gently adding your experience to the mix. Doing it without disaffecting your peers gives you extra points.

Yes I am very cynical. Good catch.

The rest of your response is static and not applicable. You don't have information to back up your response, plus it's wrong.

Its also 'static' to assert that people not like you are dumbheads. Not productive; not even right. You want a discussion, you pitch it at the level of the others in the discussion. There's a large spectrum, and always newbies coming to the arena (or the arena is dead).

The evolution of mobile technology has ironically been held back by its success. Today it's too easy to make money in mobile devices, just make things thinner, shinier, faster, and prettier and you're most of the way there. And then you can rake in massive profit margins in a market where people replace their devices on a timeframe measured in months. It's practically raining cash in the land of successful mobile manfuacturers.

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.

This remind me of the race towards smaller phones we experienced in the pre-smartphone era I don't see Sonys ultra small mobiles being in vogue anymore. We seem to forget a simple fact.

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.

At every moment of disruption in technology people saying that the new technology doesn't replace the incumbent. By definition disruptive technologies are less functional and inadequate "replacements".

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.

If you're really Steven Sinofski, pretty damn amazing to see you on hn. Watching you introduce Windows 8 at build two years back, I couldn't have ever imagined seeing you post on hn or any other discussion forum for that matter.

Discovering that Steven Sinofsky is now a board partner at a big VC firm, it's not so surprising to see him here. Welcome.

It is me. I've always participated in forums like HN while at Microsoft (and now). I think you can even find me on USENET archives :-)

Yes, all this is true and recurrent... except when it isn't.

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.

This is it. We will always need tools that do the things that what we designate "PCs" — computers with monitors, keyboard, mice, and peripherals — do best today. In absolute numbers, the sales volume of such devices may even continue to rise in the long run. But they will probably look more and more like our mobile devices, or they will be replaced by grown-up tablets.

History shows that in the short term the devices that are new have characteristics of the generation being replaced. But then they break away and things get redefined. The first word processors looked like typewriters. The first presentation packages focused on 35mm slides and "foils".

Very hard to compare two worlds (mobile and 'immobile' computers) without taking into account that the one is brand new and people seem to want one (and there is a very large push to own the latest and greatest) and the other is simply mature technology that works until the hardware dies. It's obvious you're going to sell more of things that sit in peoples pockets that replaced their previous phone, something they were doing with some regularity before smartphones appeared.

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.

Its worth it to keep in mind that A&H are in the business of selling investors on their investment ideas. This is a marketing piece not a technology piece.

Don't disagree with the market numbers, but there's a problem with mobile. It is best illustrated by the fact that I csnnot develop a mobile app on a mobile device.

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.

> I cannot develop a mobile app on a mobile device.

You can develop an Android app on an Android device.


It's probably better stated:

cannot effectively develop a mobile app on a mobile device.

Productivity largely correlates with screensize.


I don't get the "Tech Brands Are Huge" slide, specifically the comparison to the same companies in 2004. Wouldnt you compare to the top four tech companies at the time (MSFT, AOL, whatever) to demonstrate that the share of global brand value in tech is much higher now?

I have been hoping for a world where developers and content creators produced reactive HTML 5 web apps that worked beautifully on all devices from phones to laptops to large screen desktops and TVs.

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.

I am hoping for a world where developers have a choice of a technology, without being limited to legacy semi-modernized languages like HTML and JS.

True! Of course technology choices are good.

Mobile is how I know I am old.

After 5 minutes on a iphone or android phone I am like f* this give me a damn desktop.

I think my iPad ran out of battery three months ago, I haven't looked at it since. If you don't use it for entertainment, it's pretty much useless. Touchscreens and the fullscreen apps just doesn't work for me.

Mobile is not the future. We're in that future right now, and it's largely stabilized. I fully believe VR is the future. Anyone who's tried the Oculus and who has even an ounce of entrepreneurial imagination would agree. Just like when the iPhone came out in '07, the right convergence of technology has made it possible for truly convincing VR to make it into the mainstream. It will revolutionize gaming, commerce, socialization, productivity, and more. Those who understand this are already skating towards that puck. Everyone else is fighting over the few remaining scraps that the mobile table has to offer.

We haven't even hit the tip of the mobile iceberg. The evolution of mobile is like the evolution of the micro-computer. At first it was way behind the capabilities and sophistication of mini-computers. But it caught up, rapidly, and then passed by mini-computers, rapidly. The same thing is happening with mobile. The end-to-end user experience on mobile is generally superior to that of a PC, largely because mobile incorporates the lessons of decades of work in the PC/server space (one-click app installation/uninstallation, for example). Additionally, a big factor in the success of the micro-computer was cost and complexity of systems. Mini-computers took up racks of specialized equipment, micro-computers were based on a handful of mass produced components the most important of which was a CPU on a single chip. Mobile takes that even further, as such devices are generally just a screen, battery, and handful of chips on a single board, all mass produced.

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.

> Anyone who's tried the Oculus and who has even an ounce of entrepreneurial imagination would agree.

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?

>Even though there is no way it is replacing a computer or a smartphone, since they have different uses.

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.

>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?"

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[0], an analogue of which Apple have finally implemented after five generations.

[0] or, as I've just been reminded, Graffiti on the Palm PDAs

why could I have a spreadsheet that spans the entire room in VR? or ten screens? or a more efficient interface I or anyone else hasn't thought of. I click a button on my screen in VR and now their are 2. a keyboard with auto correct underneath my monitors. a kinect with a VR system could really transform productivity.

The problem is the definition of mobile. Mobile seems to be more like a form factor than an operating system. If at the end I can convert a tablet into a full featured PC (i.e Microsoft Surface running Visual Studio) or I can plug a future mobile phone to a keyboard and monitor and run Microsoft Office there then there is no division between mobile, desktop PC, and web.

I'm not sure I understand the "three phases of technology deployment" slide. Specifically, I can't think of a good example of a company that writes a check to buy technology (or the analogy to a plant on the following slide). Are these three types of companies distinct?

Did a double take at the "Glass is eating the world" slide before finally realizing they were talking about LCDs and not Google's failed wearable.

Technology gets cheaper and easier to use - a consistent story over time. Interestin stats.

I doubt this presentation was created on a mobile device.

probably because PCs had already eaten the world

but batteries?

Hmm, Good Information ...

I saw Eric Schmidt's quote "By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded" and stopped there.

I really hate comments like this. What is the point of leaving this "review"? Are you proud of not spending the 2 minutes to finish the slideshow? You mention a quote you didn't like, but then immediately invalidate the criticism by saying you didn't keep reading to see if there was anything further to back it up or refute it.

I'm not disagreeing with your complaint, I just really hate the way you framed it.

It makes me question the entire context of the presentation.

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