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What is the future of mobile?

January 5, 2014

So here’s a question, will mobile mean the end of the PC?

English: A pile of mobile devices including sm...

English: A pile of mobile devices including smart phones, tablets, laptops and ebok readers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ask this because everyone and their digital media guru suggests mobile is the future. This article, which has a lot of interesting points, says mobile will change the University experience.

The first point talks of the death of the PC. The second point outlines the reason – the rise of mobile.

So lets talk semantics for a minute: the PC is a thing that sits on a desk. A mobile device is something that doesn’t.

And yet, a mobile device isn’t something that sits in your pocket, because an iPad doesn’t. A mobile device is something “mobile”. Like, for instance, a laptop.

I actually think an iPod is a lighter laptop (or PC, if you will), and quit using mine for any meaningful reason a year ago. Now it is a glorified TV with a bad keyboard.

As laptops get lighter – the new Macbook Air weighs less than 3 lbs, our conversation about PCs will change. Mobile devices will be entry-level computers that are also phones and cameras. But then again, the Chromebook is $279. It might not weigh 3 lbs, but give it four years.

My point, the people who are claiming the death of the PC haven’t used one to write a 1,000 word essay. I suggest that people will use voice to text to start their essay, but they will create on a PC. The mobile device will act as an idea capturer, when they are sitting in the common room of the dorm discussing their thesis and a fantastic idea hits them. What they will have is a device that captures every idea – what they will still need is a device to refine it.

Mobile devices are awesome consumption devices. Good for listening, reading and surfing. They are minimally good creation devices – they have rocking cameras (thus Instagram and Snapchat), but relatively bad text creation devices – thus the 140 character Twitter “wins” and Facebook buys Instagram.

Finally, we’re only at the cusp of seeing the physical damage these devices do to our bodies. From the slouched over squinty look of people creating content to laptops, to the huge science experiment of putting phones to our ears (contrary to the suggestions in the user guides.)

My guess: as adoption of mobile devices levels offs, we’ll learn how to use them with our other devices, not in spite of them.

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