Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is it Still A Phone

I've been talking lately like even the cell phone is headed for obsolescence. I certainly find that mine is far less valuable to me than it was a couple of years ago.

But in place of the cell phone, we've seen the emergence of a device we might at last accurately call the Palm Top.  Modern road warriors depend heavily upon a the presence of a personalized, conveniently palm-sized device that once served the primary purpose of allowing us to speak with others as if by telephone.

Does that seem an odd way to say it? Well the truth is that many conversations today take place over a variety of networks not originally designed to support telephony. And the systems that were designed for telephony are becoming irrelevant because of their over-specialized and calcified nature.

The demands of the marketplace move so quickly now that expensive infrastructure cannot be deployed and responsibly abandoned swiftly enough to keep up.

If you have an iPhone or an Android phone, think about the things you do with it and consider what percentage of that is actually what we might have called telephony.

Most recently, the emergence of NFC (Near Field Communication) allows your phone to replace your credit cards, and now even your car keys. (http://solsie.com/2011/06/smartphone-ditches-car-keys/)

In a gift box recently, I found a foam rubber replica of an avocado. Actually it was a half-avocado with the pit still in place. As I held it in my hand with the pit facing up, the fit was perfect, and I could imagine a future device (future as in next month) shaped like this to replace my new smartphone. The 'pit' could become a not-trackball that detected the gestures of my thumb, the side of the device could allow for chorded presses of my fingers to control the signals the device would send to the world around me.

Okay, so it's a pipe dream (or in this case a yummy food dream), but can anyone really predict what imaginative, innovative mutation the phone will take on next?

Can you?