No, this blog entry is not about amazing statistics but about real-world usage. Old guys like me with huge hands and fading eyes cannot hold a candle to what young people can do with the smart phone. They walk, talk, drive and eat with them. They buy stuff and make reservations and check themselves in with on-screen barcodes… The mind boggles at the possibilities of being always on-line.
One possibility which never occurred to me is real-time detection of plagiarism/copyright violation. I kid you not that the Dean of Medicine of a Canadian university was speaking to students at a convocation when a curious sentient being in the audience thought the speech familiar and searched for the text instantly. The sharp student was able to follow the speech almost word for word because it was in part a copy of a speech given recently at another university. Ouch!
Shades of Rodney King’s beating and video cameras, we have detectives with powerful resources in every audience and classroom. Small devices as PCs were in comparison to computers and sliderules, pocket-calculators, cell-phones and now smart phones have revolutionized large parts of human activity because, being smaller, they were easy to produce and to distribute and affordable by many.
I have no doubt the ATXish PC will soon be a niche product for the rare situation where a large box is needed or high throughput is needed. Something as small as a smart phone using a watt or so can do most of the same things that the standard “PC” does. Being networked devices, users will be able to command more computing power sometimes on a server or the cloud. The smart phone or tablet will be the standard PC for those who move around a lot like students, sales-people or outdoorsy types. The smart phone docked, notebooks, thin clients and tablets will be standard PCs for most who do not require mobility. The big box will be relegated to those who need few PCs in the locale but might want heavy local storage and throughput somewhere on the LAN. With ARMed CPUs as they are and USB storage devices everywhere, the niche of the big box will be a small sliver.
It came as a shock to many of us using nothing but desktops when the notebook overtook desktop production. That process is still going on but smart thingies are overtaking notebooks at the same time. There is a food-chain of IT, layers of ever more ubiquitous gadgets with the smart phone at the top in terms of numbers.
In addition to the new forms of personal computing devices, we are getting completely new software with the new systems. Many run Android/Linux but there are several variations. Whereas M$ has a share of 90% of desktops, M$ has only a few % share of smart phones and tablets. The hardware reproduced and mutated faster than M$ could crank out a product to try to maintain monopoly. Google and others were able to migrate software rapidly to ARM because the Linux kernel was already running on ARM. The rest is history in the making. Older technology while still useful is not as flexible, useful and cheap as the newer stuff. M$, alone, takes in about $40billion in revenue for that other OS. Except for servers and power desktop/notebook users that revenue will be slashed as the number of ARMed personal computing devices keeps doubling annually. This year, the ARMed thingies were the notebook computer of a few years ago, taking the larger share.
There’s no telling how far “small” will go but HUDs on our eye-glasses and gadgets we talk with instead of type into are imminent. It’s a matter of when. The tablets hesitated a bit because the software actually took longer to develop but the ARMed ecosystem will have increased numbers of developers and number of experienced developers to make sure that does not happen again. The hardware guys are trying to ramp up production without accumulating inventory. It’s all rather interesting to see how a chaotic system functions through market forces and inertia. We have multiple sources of software and hardware so we should never see another monopoly of IT like Wintel.