Earlier this week I watched the movie ‘Patton‘ on TV. General George S. Patton was born in the 19th century and saw warfare go from trenches and horses, to tanks, airplanes, and missiles; a span of about 40 years.
What have we seen take place in the personal computer industry over roughly the same time period? Early PCs had an arcane command line interface. The Mac, though point and click, was $2,499 for a 9-inch black and white display. In the decades since we have seen smaller, faster, thinner, lighter, more powerful, more mobile, and vastly more capability from the growing personal computer, smartphone, and tablet industry, and the single most profitable beast during all that growth is Apple’s iPhone.
Looking forward, what will replace the iPhone?
Generations X, Y, Z
My membership to life is born from Generation X. Generation Y, the millennials, are the ones changing the habits of daily culture; not bound to a cable TV connection for news and entertainment. What of Generation Z, the Post-Millennials? Our generation no longer uses a CLI or bulky tower computers, having adapted to the mobile device world. What will members of Generation Z use instead of an iPhone?
Predictions of the future are easy, especially when looking back at the changes wrought by history. Accurate predictions are more difficult, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to figure out where and when the next insanely great trend will arrive.
A few years ago, market analyst Gene Munster said Apple will introduce a high resolution television. Many of us agreed, but probably because we wanted to buy a television with an Apple logo on it. All of us were disappointed, but didn’t stop to realize that Apple already shipped a television; not a traditional model, but a handheld device that both Millennials and Post-Millennials are trained to use instead of adhering to the time honored cable TV subscription model.
Our generation has adopted mobile devices as a method to obtain information and entertainment, but more recent generations were born with those devices and their approach to usage is different than ours.
Munster, heavily mired in historical technology, expects the iPhone to be replaced by a mixed reality device that exemplifies a hybrid reality, a mashup of augmented reality with virtual reality, emanating from multiple devices where the iPhone of the future merely is one of many (and, no, nothing like the mashup hybrid as exemplified by Mayra Hills, size 32Z; very much NSFW).
News reports and rumor collectors have pointed to Samsung’s Gear VR, Google’s Glass, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and Oculus VR as the vision of the future, a mashup of virtual reality with augmented reality. I don’t see it. What? Are we going to walk around with an electronic device strapped to our faces in order to partake of the 21st century’s technology mashup of information and entertainment, circa what happened to XO Kane in Alien? But without the upset stomach?
Just as history is rewritten by the victors, the written future seldom shows up the way it is envisioned. Notebook-tablet hybrid devices make for great television commercials, but make your arms tired. The smartphone is the device of choice over traditional computing for a billion or so earthlings, but how do we get to Minority Report from a handheld screen which requires constant squinting?
Virtual reality and augmented reality be damned because mixed reality is already here. Have you seen politicians debate on television recently? I jest, yes, but look around? People are ignoring reality in favor of bad posture simply to view kittens and Jackass on handheld devices. That’s not going to change. Obviously, if employment ads and recent hires mean anything, then Apple is moving toward devices which can handle and deliver mixed reality. But what form will they take? Wearable? Implantable? Helmet or Glasses? Or, a hologram projected in front of our eyes?
Whatever it is, Apple has a huge stake in the future, if anything, simply to protect the revenue and profits generated by the iPhone.