I don’t own an iPhone; that AT&T connection is what hinders me. But I do think its success presages the eventual replacement of laptops, especially as it (and its successors) become larger and more powerful.
Still, we in the West should keep in mind that the rest of the world has already adopted cellphone based technology as a less expensive tool for communications, messaging, and even database access:
- Check out Think Twitter’s the biggest microblogging service? Take a look at SMS GupShup to see what our friends in India are already doing.
- Check out Appropriate Technology, Mobile Web Access, and Developing Countries to see how remote interaction with databases via cellphones in Africa is being worked out.
- Check out the podcast Designing Appropriate Computing Technologies for the Rural Developing World for a description of how researchers are creating developer toolkits for using mobile phones for data collection and other data related functions.
- In a related vein, check out Move Over Kindle: Here Comes the Chinese E-Book concerning the Chinese government’s coming investment in e-books.
Just on a numeric basis, there are many more cellphones than laptops, and cost wise, cellphones (at least, most of them!) are still cheaper than laptops. While I certainly don’t see the laptop computer dying overnight, it makes sense to me that anyone developing applications and databases for web access should already be planning for two-way access via mobile devices, or risk obsolescence.
This includes within-the-firewall access to web based resources in the large corporation. Yes, there will still be the need to create and develop large text and media files. But the degree to which access to interactive databases and systems can be streamlined for both one-way as well as two-way access must be substantial, and not just in white collar jobs, as Jim MacLennan pointed out recently in Finally! Relevant Applications for YouTube and Twitter in the Enterprise!. I see no reason, for example, why iPhone applications can’t be developed that provide for interaction with sophisticated remote systems such as those used in customer service, sales management, and project management.
Yes, there will always be the need for creation of content, but collaboration frequently involves more than creation; it also requires access to presence information, interactive audio and video, and existing databases of structured information.
Perhaps the 80/20 rule will be relevant, where 80% of the interaction with a complex system can be managed using a portable device like an iPhone? Isn’t that what the projects cited in the above bullet list are already doing?
- Copyright (c) 2008 by Dennis D. McDonald