As the iPhone prepares to celebrate its tenth birthday, some in the industry are wondering what the Next Big Thing will be. It seems that just when things become comfortable (and incidentally, technology takes about ten years to become “invisible” and comfortable), the visionaries begin to question, well, everything.
Apple and Microsoft not only foresaw the end of the room-sized mainframe, but basically killed it. Companies like Digital Equipment Corporation [Who? – Ed.] believed that they held the high ground and that PCs were a passing fad. Digital Equipment, or DEC [Oh, them. – Ed.], went the way of Kodak. And quickly. Mind you, even industry giants can get it wrong. Bill Gates himself declared that the internet was a passing fad
Then came the smartphone, which has become the new normal. It is now the most popular way of getting onto “the wild west of the internet” (direct quote from my 12 year old niece).
But ten years is a long time in technology, and while the devices become smarter and faster and (hopefully) more secure, there are those that are looking for the next big thing, and throwing billions of dollars at the challenge.
The best guess of most industry pundits is that virtual reality or augmented reality will become the new platform – the new “hardware”, so to speak.
Augmented reality is something that immediately brings out the cynic in aging publishers of online publications, even if they are about disruption. We see AR as niche, about games and virtual trips to exotic locations and, of course, porn (although robots already seem to be stealing the march on that last one).
As always, opinions are divided. On the one hand, millennials see no point in things like Snap Spectacles. On the other hand, Google Glass is back, infiltrating the enterprise and finding a natural home.
The question seems to be whether millennials, or whatever the next generation is called – ah, yes, Generation Z – will think it is cool to have your computer, your access, in a virtual space around you.
But, there is an equal chance that the pendulum is due for a backswing, and some old fashioned traits and means of communications may come back (albeit only for awhile). Who knows – face to face conversations may become popular, or actually phoning someone without making an appointment first.
Whatever the Next Big Thing turns out to be, device and hardware wise, with the tenth anniversary of the iPhone looming, you can bet that minds immeasurably superior to ours are watching and waiting…