This past weekend, I got a chance to sit with friends and family, and entertained the usual question of “what device(s) am I carrying around?” This question is one part normal for how I’ve been, but in another space gives me some impressions of how computing technologies are making their ways around the lives of others.
One of the more common sentiments heard this weekend was this realization that conventional PCs are being replaced by one or more different types of computing devices. For example, one friend has recently run into issues with his home router, and himself had been using a Palm Pre Plus to get his email and communicate with people. He’d gotten tired of his wife asking for his mobile for email/games/browsing, and she soon also adapted the use of a Palm Pre Plus. Now, their laptop sits mostly unused, and they manage most of their digital lives on smartphones.
Another friend was looking at the iPad as a potential netbook/laptop replacement, but in our conversations, realized that their actual computer use didn’t need something to change so drastically. They wanted the flexibility of a tablet, but only for occasional reading sessions. Usually, they were out and about and a mobile that could connect to Wi-Fi was a better proposition for them. I brought up the option of the iPod Touch and various ebook readers such as the Kindle and NookColor which are lower priced than the iPad, and offer closer to how they wanted to use these devices.
Essentially, what I’m seeing is that the PC as a traditional platform (keyboard, monitor, desk, and siloed from other people), is falling away as the primary definition. For many, computing is only as relevant as the information that they need at that point. And whether this is directions, books, or music, the definition of computing is less about what numbers and data you are crunching, and more about access.
I know that for me, my paradigm shifted a long time ago. Now seeing others coming to that same realization that computing is defined by them – and then the technology – is pretty neat, and offers lessons towards other aspects of computing which might also end up being redefined.