Then, there are technology advancements that become mainstream and aimed at the masses. Let’s call them the settlers. They stake out their territory and bring law and order to the land. Is Apple a pioneer? Or, a settler?
For as much as Apple receives due props for disrupting various markets with new technologies, the very same Apple often is late to the party. Late to portable media. Late to smartphones. Late to tablets. Late to the smartwatch. Yet, which company leads in every category? Pioneer? Or, settler?
Two new display technologies are visible on the horizon. First, Samsung and other tech giants are showing off foldable and rollable display technology. That means roll up television and foldable smartphones are not far away. Second, a live display that functions as a keyboard (similar to the keyboard on iPad).
Where is Apple?
As usual, nowhere to be found. Apple is all but out of the display business. Apple buys iPhone and iPad displays from Samsung, LG, Japan Display, and others. Yet, a display revolution is on the way for personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and even televisions (8K will be the next great visual thing).
Where is Apple?
From my perspective Apple is where the settlers are after the pioneers have opened up new territory. Waiting. New technologies take time to settle in and become mainstream. Apple’s history shows the company has a knack for jumping in and turning the pioneer effort into a settlement.
I’ll get to foldable smartphones in a moment, but way back last summer I wrote The Mac Does Not Need A Keyboard. At least, not a keyboard in the traditional, physical sense. Instead, I have no doubt that Apple is working on a virtual keyboard— think iPad’s onscreen keyboard– with a discrete combination of Force Touch or 3D Touch for tactile feedback but on a flat slab of glass where the keys themselves are programmed by software.
Open a Mac notebook’s clamshell of keyboard and display, but instead of the physical clickety-clack keyboard, in its place is another display. A keyboard display that looks and feels like a real keyboard.
Now, about that foldable smartphone idea. This is one that we need to see to believe in because thin is in and anything foldable is not as thin as anything not so foldable.
Xiaomi just convinced me I need a foldable phone
No, don’t go to Amazon to try to order one. They’re on the way, though. Pioneers are always on the way.
The device is the result of Xiaomi being able to overcome the technical challenges related to folding screens, hinges, flexible form factors, and adaptive user interfaces…
Things that bend tend to break or crack over time, so the adage time will tell might be a good reason to wait for the settlers to take over the land now occupied by the pioneers.
It always happens that way.
It has been carefully designed to work perfectly in both modes. The power button on the side of the device is easily accessible when it’s used as a tablet or a phone, and its software automatically switches to conform to the new dimensions of the display when it’s folded.
If the hinge problem is solved then the rest is just software. Oh, and usability. My iPhone XS Max with Smart Batter Case already is thicker than I want in my pocket, so a foldable iPad mini needs to be perfected before I fork over Apple Pay.
I have little doubt that Apple is working on both the virtual keyboard for future Macs, and a foldable display technology for future iPhones. Just remember that Apple is more settler than pioneer.