Friday, December 17, 2004

Dominos

Here's something I was thinking about yesterday:

I like my iPod, but I really wish that I could have one convergence device that did everything: phone, Internet, e-mail, audio, video.  Does this turn the cellphone companies into all-mighty gods?  Maybe.  Will this make cellphones cost $1,000 or more?  Probably, but look at what the cost of a cell phone, Blackberry, iPod, and personal video player would cost you.  Does this turn hardware manufacturers into software companies?  Again, probably, but if you have been focused on design (i.e., Apple), the cellphone manufacturers would want you to help them design the best looking and most functional device so that they can tell consumers you were involved.

I have a collection of DVDs at home.  I refuse to invest in more DVDs.  Why?  Because I think that for me as an early adopter, DVDs are a dead medium already.  In the next 12-18 months, I expect to be able to on-demand a lot of the stuff that I want to watch.  As long as I can get access to movies I want to watch when I want to watch them, I don't need to take up the space in my house with DVDs.

The stuff that I can't get on-demand initially I will probably be recording on some sort of device in the next 12-18 months.  I certainly expect that all the content I record will be recorded to a device that will allow me to take it with me on my convergence portable device.  One of the biggest factors of home digital recording is storage.

I start to question whether or not I even need to own storage.  Do I?  No.  I have a high-speed connection, which, in the next 12-18 months, should only get faster.  Why should I have to purchase hard drives and redundant systems to sit at my house and draw electricity and worry about failures?  I would much rather spend a sliding scale of dollars on storage that was based in some bomb-proof bunker somewhere that was instantly backed up, had UPS systems, etc.  $1 per month per gig of storage I use?  Seems like a hell of a deal for the provider, I mean Gmail taught us that gigs of storage just don't cost that much.  Of course, if all my storage were offsite, then I could access it over the web whenever I wanted, including with my convergence device.  And I could watch my recorded content and movies on the media player built into my convergence device and listen to my audio on my convergence device -- basically be providing my own on-demand service.

So if I don't need storage for audio and movies and pictures and files, why exactly do I need an expensive computer?  If the broadband pipe is fast enough for me to transfer data to and from my offsite storage, it's probably fast enough for me to run on-demand applications.  Think about how the application business works right now: you buy MS Office and you use Outlook (insert whichever applications that you use the most in place of "Outlook") 80-90% of the time and the other applications much less (for many of you that have purchased Office 2003 Professional: how much do you really use Access?).  One-two year later, Microsoft releases an updated Office suite and you spend a big chunk of money to upgrade again; throughout the 1-2 year gap between major releases, you are responsible for keeping on top of the upgrades to the Office suite.  What if I could just pay per use for Office applications?  At home I use web-interface e-mail over the Firefox browser, so I don't need Outlook and I hardly use many of the other applications.  If I didn't need all of the RAM and hard disk space to store all of the applications on my machine, imagine how cheap my computer would be.  For scratch memory on my computer, I would use some sort of flash card array -- you can get 5GB SD cards even now, so imagine how much they will hold in the next 12-18 months.  If I could get the majority of what I needed on a flash card, then do I really need a dedicated monitor?  maybe I would just plug my thin client PC into my plasma TV with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

The next big question for my thin PC is the operating system.  If all of my on-demand application could be run in a web-interface, then maybe I could just use Firefox or Linux as my OS and run Open Office applications on demand instead of paying for the name-brand Microsoft stuff.  If this were the case, maybe my TV would just come with an open-source OS built into it and a slot for my flashcard memory and I could just get rid of my thin client PC.  My TV would then ship with a remote and a wireless keyboard/mouse combo and I would be covered.  Even better would be if the TV had a cable modem built into so that I didn't need a cable modem at all (TV and data over the same cord) and that the TV also had a WiFi access point and Bluetooth built in so that I could sink my convergence device, access the internet with my convergence device not having to use GPRS or pay-data, and let my friends with their old, clunky laptops access the Internet if they came over.

So why is the post called "Dominos?"  Well, imagine each paragraph as a domino.  As each paragraph ends, it falls over onto the next until there are no paragraph dominos left.  Where does the end of the current systems lie?  Hard to tell.  Am I right about how all this will play out?  Maybe, maybe not, but it will be exciting to find out.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

That integrated phone that does it all, its called a PocketPC phone or a Smartphone depending on how much you want it to be liek a phone or better suited for video. These things really do it all. Throw a 512MB miniSD (or the 1GB when it comes out) into the Audiovox SMT5600 and you got yourself an MP3 player than can also do video and everything else Windows Media Player can play! done!

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