The more things change they more they stay the same. Well sort of … Technology trends tends to repeat themselves.
About 20 years ago while Mark Weiser was with PARC, he coined the concept of ubiquitous computing, which described the behaviour of human-machine interaction in everyday activities. It was quite hyped in the early dotcom days, when IPV6 was also making its rounds too. Remember, when everything from your toaster to your car would be interconnected (via the internet) and be intelligent enough to contact (ahem, spam) you with status updates.
Then everything went quiet. For a while anyway, until the Web’s second coming. Convergence was all the buzz. Your mobile would be your wallet, media player, newsreader, email device, etc. etc., oh yes … and your phone. Lets be fair, there has been traction here even in areas where we had not predicted. I cannot remember anyone predicting that satellite/GPS navigation would be almost defacto in most (high-end) mobile handsets.
So, it’s been a few years and we realised that we cannot do everything on our mobile phones. Or so Apple told us. And then there was the tablet revolution. Everyone has to make one, even if you haven’t figured out the best interface design or real use case. That said, tablets (and Apple’s sales performance) has shown us that that there is this need for a device that resides somewhere between our mobiles and notebooks.
Hmmm … sounds a lot like we are back to ubiquitous, especially when you consider those networked media playback devices in our homes.
Now there is a problem, and the key players in the space have obviously seen this too. And it is a reality of the universe of ubiquitous devices eventually making their way into our daily lives. Licensing.
Licensing of everything … especially media and applications (and surely application data is on its way too). Enter the App store.
Ah yes, so you bought that book/game/song/movie/application on your mobile. But wait, you don’t want to pay for it again on your tablet or media centre.
That’s the real use-case for electronic stores in any pseudo-convergent-ubiquitous-interconnected-device-universe. Okay, it also deals with piracy too.
As a typical consumer, its going to take a bit of time for me to but my next desktop application from an App Store, but at some point the multiple device licensing benefit is going to come to the fore. Hopefully application vendors realise that (like media ones have) end users cannot use the same application concurrently on four devices at the same time, so a single license should suffice to across our mobiles, tablets, notebooks and media centres.
Time will tell.