joe moon

Convergence, or All The Things I've Been Thinking About That Turned Out To Be The Same Thing

So, I came pretty close to buying an iPhone because I found a deal for a refurbished 8GB 3G for $99. I ultimately decided not to after realizing that the cost of the device is really pretty trivial compared to the contractual commitment. I'm sure I'll cave soon or later, but I'm going to try to wait until I have a real job and for there to be some more Android phones (I saw my first G1 in the wild a few days ago) on the market (which I think there will be a bunch more early in 2009, though I'll probably be reluctant to buy a first generation Android phone from any manufacturer).

But it got me thinking a lot about smart phones, and how they're slowly turning into universal remotes, except not just for televisions and dvd players, but for everything. Kind of like what Ben Kingsley had in Sneakers.

It also got me thinking about how a giant (like 10" screen) iPhone would be a great netbook/tablet, especially with Swype, which makes me think that netbooks are just big smart phones. A bunch of OEMs are supposed to release new touchscreen convertible (swivel-screen) netbooks at CES in January. I imagine the hardware will all be pretty similar, and really usability, i.e. the user interface, will decide the quality of the products. And I think both android and the iPhone OS (which is OSX, I think?) are pretty much ideal for these.

I'm pretty annoyed at how much service still costs, though. Both cell phone voice/data/sms and just broadband in general. And it seems like the problem in both cases stems from the fact that the initial infrastructure costs prohibit a lot of competition, not to mention building more infrastructure would be redundant. But it sucks that just a few corporations own all the infrastructure (and can subsequently charge 20 cents per text message, which is madness).

I separately started thinking about the recent proposal by Kevin Martin, chairman of the FCC (who is apparently still talking about it, and even willing to drop the censorship provision (though I never really cared, since his original proposal was opt-out)), to create a free nationwide broadband wi-fi network. I have erotic fantasies about this proposal.

I think the implications of this are bigger than just everyone being able to check their email from anywhere. Because all of the old media/communications are becoming digital and subsequently (though slowly) migrating to the internet anyway. Television, movies, music/radio, newspapers, even telecom is moving slowly VoIP-ward.

A ubiquitous wireless network of sufficient power makes all of the old media obsolete.

We wouldn't even have to waste bandwidth on any of that other stuff. The entire RF spectrum could all just be the global ubiquitous wireless internet, and any communication between any two points could be through the One Medium (though maybe this is bad for security?).

I think that would mean that hardware would lose the arbitrary restrictions that the different systems put on them. The discrete points of 'cell phone,' 'smart phone,' 'netbook,' 'laptop' and 'desktop' on the spectrum of computing devices would flatten out and instead there would exist devices at every point on the spectrum, tailored to suit consumers' preferences exactly.

The One Medium also makes cloud computing even more feasible, which allows the hardware to be nothing more than an internet connection with a UI.

Something that's really appealing about this, too, is that I think it works more like a public utility or freeway system (remember the 'information superhighway?'), and no private corporation owns all of the infos (except maybe the cloud computing providers (i.e. Google)? hm… uh oh).

I'm sure if that even if any of this is at all technically feasible, it's still a long, long way off, but that's the direction I see it going. Any thoughts?