I just finished watching a re-run of the Charlie Rose show where he was speaking with a reporter from the New Yorker, Ken Auletta, about the future of technology. It was kind of interesting, Ken definitely had a better grasp on the topic than Charlie did.  One comment in particular really caught me funny.  They had been discussing the prospect of Google entering into the wireless/cellular spectrum and charlie said something to the effect, “…since when has advertising worked on a cell-phone.”  Clearly missing the point – Google wouldn’t be buying wireless/cellular spectrum to get into the cell-phone business, they would be there to market an Internet portal via cellular technology.  Ken at least understood that, and also could see that in the future, it may not be the Internet as we now know it, but some derivative/enhancement of internet technology which will enable the “next big thing.”

Another topic that I thought was amusing was the reference to “cloud computing,” which really is just another name for distributed computing.  Man, talk about a dead-horse!  I remember “back in the day” (we’re talking late-1970’s-early 1980’s) when PC’s were ultra expensive and everyone thought “cloud computing” would save the day! LOL! Back then it was called “Videotex.” This kind of “system” has been tried and failed so many times, I just don’t see it being a big player for another few years.  What makes it so attractive is that it will virtually eliminate pirating – basically it’s the same model that so many MMO’s are currently using, the server controls everything, and to access the server you pay a subscription.  I can see that model being very, very attractive to big corporations that want better control over their software (MS Office only accessible via server login anyone?).  All big name software publishers ought to be envious of this model.  Anyways, I don’t think that will be the “next big thing.” But I think it will happen …eventually…

Could something like my Perfect Gadget be the next big thing?  Possibly – basically you need to get a massively convergent device that’s ultra portable (I’m talking you can take it camping if you want to), very good at graphics/computing power, and comfortable to use for several hours at a time.

Massively convergent means it needs the following capabilities:

  • High-End PC including intense gaming & office applications
  • High-Speed network access via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Cellular
  • Cellular Phone/Texting
  • GPS/Mapping
  • HDCamcorder/Portrait Camera
  • Additional “above screen” web-cam
  • Digital Television – possibly even Dish/DirecTV style access, including TiVo style digital recording/playback
  • Expandable/Upgradable (memory, graphics, processor, etc.)
  • A lot of solid-state storage, at least 100Gig
  • Lots of ports (USB, Memory Cards, Audio/Video (in/out), S-Video (in/out), FireWire, Headphones, Bluetooth, IR, etc.)

Ultra Portable Means:

  • Adapts to/uses many power sources (US-AC, Euro, Car Adapter, Battery, etc.)
  • Weighs about the same as a small camcorder with battery; ~one pound
  • Dimensions of less than 8″ diameter and 3″ tall (when closed)
  • No drive mechanisms, fully solid-state RAM/ROM/Storage

Comfortable to Use for long periods means:

  • Ergonomically designed hand-holds, button placement, balance, etc. (for American-adult sized hands/fingers [large])
  • Large, touch-sensitive, high-resolution screen that can easily be read without squinting – at least 4″x6″

You get the idea, basically it’s gotta do everything in a small package and be pretty durable and easy/comfortable to use for long periods of time  (ie use washable/breathable covering where hands go so it’s not slipping out of sweaty hands) and without wearing out your hands/arms due to weight or finger stretching to reach often used keys/buttons.  People are pretty used to the idea of “thumb-texting,” so I don’t think that’s too big a deal as long as your thumbs can easily reach all of the keypad keys.  As I said before in my Perfect Gadget article, I think this is well within current technology’s reach for a reasonable price.  I’d expect it to initially be priced around $2500 with a fall-off price to around $800 after it’s been on the market for a couple years.

Now, couple that portable device with a home-based media server that would allow folks to access all of their movies, music, games, photos, whatever; with their portable unit, from anywhere in the world.  Now you’re getting somewhere…