We get asked all the time, whether laptops will replace desktops, tablets will replace laptops, and phones will replace tablets. Everyone wants to know where the future of technology is heading, so they can save their hard-earned money and get right to it without investing in the wrong ‘fad’ only to be stuck with the 2015 version of a Betamax. While we who are involved in IT on a daily basis, and our crystal ball may be just slightly clearer than the population at large, fortune telling is still fortune telling. Even Patrick Jane knows that a guess is still a guess, even if it’s educated. That being said, I think I have some valid opinions and if you’re still reading, you want to hear them. So take that grain of salt and let’s speculate a bit.
We are now (for some time) officially a connected society. With Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Wikipedia, and Kickstarter, we don’t do anything alone or disconnected. Leaving your smart phone at home is tantamount to wandering around with one shoe. With that knowledge, ‘wearables’ are what the industry and the tech media are talking about. Things like Google Glass, Will.i.am’s Pulse, and even some more fashionable Smart Bracelets, along with a host of other offerings and waiting to be the next big hit.But what we are finding is that despite the cry of the poor 99%, we consumers are not buying the one-device-to-replace-them-all but instead are filling our homes with a variety of connected devices. If we were to look honestly at our homes, a few of us old-schoolers still have a desktop computer, most everyone has one-or-more laptops in the house, a tablet or two, a smart phone for nearly every person over the age of 12, a gaming console or two, a smart TV (or at least a DVD player with Netflix app), and so on.
And these things are pushing hard to get into the small- to medium-sized businesses that I service for daily. It started with PDAs (don’t worry if you don’t remember those, they were not that great), then went to the early feature phones and modern smart phones, and now tablets are invading. We are setting up remote access from tablets to desktops more and more, so people can use the same resources from anywhere. The lines between home and work are blurring, with so much connectivity as well. Some companies have struggled to keep work-time separated from personal time, but with business communication via text and email on our phones, the pendulum is swinging both ways.
I spoke recently at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon room full of Realtors and addressed the issue of personal time. When I started recommending that they use the Do Not Disturb function on their iPhones I saw the recognition in their eyes and continued to hear about it after my presentation. As devices continue to break down the walls that prevent 100% connectivity, we the humans need to set our own limitations. In regard to web design I often hear, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” I am also reminded of a verse from 1 Corinthians 10:23, ““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.”
So as the gift giving season looms, with threats of the latest and greatest thing with zero down and no hidden fees, I’m saying that There Is No Perfect Spaghetti Sauce. If you find something that fits you, you are willing to accept its shortcomings, and it fits the budget, that is the device you have been waiting for. It may take some time to experiment and make it work the way you want – it might even require a consult with your favorite computer guys, but don’t stress about finding “the one”. Technology changes, and our interaction and expectations change as well. And somewhere in the middle is where the future lies. If I could predict it, I’d be building it already. But since that’s not happening, hopefully my narrow insight can help you divine your own perfect device.