Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
So ya gotta believe Eric Schmidt-- he says the Smartphone is the new PC. Can you believe it? He must know. The chief Googler says that this device is the new PC, smartphones are outpacing the sale of PCs and yeah, we will get everything we need from this 2 x 4 inch shaky little box. He really said this -- pretty much unquestioned by press who were at the event, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. And your car will drive itself, you'll never be lonely -- and you'll be happier. I'm not making that up -- he said it. Maybe he really can predict the future -- when miniaturization rules the world and we have bifocals attached to our bifocals. Just don't drop your PC into the trash on his say-so just yet. Let's see how effective business people can be with this cute little thing -- let them try to edit a 21-page word document like the one I just sent out with 9 different graphics and 21 end-note references. In fact, I am willing to bet that none of the folks I sent it to are reading it on their iPhone, Droid, or BlackBerry. And folks I know are not updating their multi-sheet Excel files where they track their business performance and they're putting down their phones to work on those large PPT sales decks that they can only see fractionally.
A better phone is good -- maybe Google could help produce one. How about a keyboard (soft or real) that is consistent with our other keyboards key positions so that when you want to sound as smart as your phone in your text messages -- and not like a misspelling illiterate -- you could. Working on sound quality is good -- thanks to Google's partners. But there you go again, Google -- it's back to the constraints and limitations of your Gmail contact list -- don't let your shaky hands over that hypersensitive screen mis-type anything. And good luck trying to figure out if you're on the right message -- the smart phone version of Gmail does not permit breaking 'conversations' up into their individual message components.
Are you sure you want to get rid of PCs? I wonder if Eric Schmidt's household has narrowed itself down to smart phones -- I bet not -- how could he see the entire list of what his Google search retrieved? And sending critical business-related messages (buy, sell? other?) Or to put it another way, how about adding an 'ARE YOU SURE?' question before every send, dial, and delete? Because I am betting that most of us aren't really sure when we're on a 'smart' phone -- we're trying to respond between red lights and the search for a parking space. Someday the 'smart' moniker is going to look just a bit overreaching -- even as the alternative 'feature' phone was kind of dumb about information. But at least (for a while) vendors knew its place in the world.
He didn't mention the tablet -- that is gilding the device lily. As an NPR analyst noted this evening, the iPad created a market for a device we didn't know we needed -- and now the 80+ tablet competitors are racing into the market with imitators of that device so that they, too, can participate in a market for these products that we don't need. I guess that is the definition of a fad. So let's say you have a smart phone, a laptop, a tablet, a game console and a few (archaic) cell phones lying around the house. Are you happier? Was it a better use of money than, say, a vacation? Repairing your snow-damaged roof? Maybe we're not as smart as we think.