Critical Section

about smartphones

Saturday,  11/28/09  01:02 PM

The other day I noted Tim Bray's observation that he could use his Android smartphone for consuming content, but not for creating it.  Which sparked an email exchange with my friend Gary:

{G} Note that I posted on my blog in 2004 with my Treo.

{me} There’s “blogging” as in the technical act of making a post (which I’ve been able to do for a long time too), and “blogging” as in the creative act of sitting and reviewing links and reading pages and editing photos and assembling an interesting post (which I still cannot do from my smartphone).  I will say with my Pre I am closer than I was with my Treo.

{G} Because the Pre/iPhone/Android phones allow a level of browsing and interactivity that were previously reserved for PCs.  Really, smart phones are the biggest threat to MS ever.  OTOH, for creating content, you want a PC, as you've observed.

{me} I accept that more and more of what could only be done on a PC before can now be done on smartphones.  And I guess I figured eventually everything which could be done on a PC would be doable on a smartphone.  Years ago I moved from a desktop to a laptop and never looked back.  Still, when docked I do have a fullsize keyboard, standalone mouse, and [maybe most important] a 24” monitor.  Sometimes on the road when I am using my laptop, I miss my desk.

{G} Well, there's a Nikon camera for sale now that has a projector built-in, and projectors are shrinking, so that could work.  But since my current NeXT machine (iPhone) is really the same as the one I had in 1990, but has more storage and processing power, I think the more likely scenario is that I just lay the phone on the desk (or really, keep it in my pocket) and my keyboard and large screen light up, and I continue computing, with a desktop metaphor as we have today, if that remains useful.

my blogstation - note Pre circled at centerI’ve been giving this a lot of thought.  An interesting subject.  Consider my blogstation, pictured at right, with my Pre circled in the center.

I think the difference with a phone is the communication bandwidth.  You can view just about anything now, but you still have a teeny view of it.  Perhaps when we have projectors built into phones (which I’m sure are coming) then you can view more of it, and consuming content will be more or less the same as with a PC.  As far as input, multitouch is all very exciting, but most content creation involves typing, and typing on a phone just isn’t like typing on a PC.  Yet.  If it ever will be, the physical size of fingers is what it is.  Seems like there are breakthroughs yet to be made there (virtual keyboards?).  Maybe it will take a mind-to-device link other than physical finger motion.

There was a time I would have found it amazing to be reading and composing email on a phone, and yet...  maybe next I'll be reading RSS and posting to my blog.  Stay tuned!

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