Has the mobile device run out of steam? (Part 1)June 28th, 2016
by Andrew Bell
Perhaps the most notable phenomena of the eighties was the rise of the personal computer, with relatively cheap and easy to use consumer PC’s growing exponentially in popularity both at home and in the office. This was to be overshadowed by the singular breakthrough of the 1990’s however: the spread of the internet and email, which finally broke into the home to capture the public’s interest. With this came the game-changing new approaches to entertainment, consumerism and communication that we are all familiar with today.
The noughties was truly the decade of the mobile device however, with internet-enabled smartphones and tablets finally reaching a consumer audience in a meaningful way. These were soon followed by new and exciting social media platforms that only served to consolidate these devices’ already huge popularity. By the end of the noughties, almost every adult in the developed world not only had the means to access the internet, but was also able to do so through a portable device.
It is now almost a decade since the tablet took the consumer marketplace by storm, and at this point it seems unclear whether or not there are any new paradigms in personal computing to be discovered. Indeed, even the smart watch, at one time felt to be the possible next step for portable computing, has been troubled by an apathetic public and lack of diverse functionality.
Indeed, each new product type in personal computing has sought to enrich the consumer’s relationship with technology and the internet. Early personal computers through to internet enabled PC’s of the 90’s, the smartphone and the tablet have all pushed the envelope of online connectivity at a consumer level. Arguably, each of these products are essentially just different types of computer, with each being a repackaging of the personal computer in different shapes and with different unique capabilities.
After the exciting and rapid progress of the last three decades, it’s only natural to wonder what’s next. Are our most technologically innovative years behind us? Have we now entered a period of technological refinement where progress will only ever be incremental and gradually diminishing? Or do we instead need to look elsewhere for clear signs of technological innovation?
Continued in part 2 – coming next week.