Of late, an area that has engaged my attention is the evolution of four competing mobile platforms, namely, Android, Apple’s iOS, Blackberry and Symbian, resulting in the modern lineup of smart devices. This post series has nothing to do with which platform is better vis-à-vis another,but only an articulation of how seemingly ordinary things in this area are not so ordinary. At least, not quite.
In case you have taken the evolution of these devices with a so-what, take a deep breath and step back in time. And before we come to the mobile part of the discussion, I urge you to take a look at the below graphic carefully.
(Picture Courtesy: www.hp.com)
The snapshot represents a specification of a laptop being published in January 2000, when mobiles were big as brick, had a pull-me-out antenna, and were still a headturner. Blackberry was quite unknown (at least I do not recall seeing it in my circle of those days) and phones did not have camera – all. Android was not even the proverbial glint in the eye of the developer.
It is important to state that I do not have reason other than availability of authentic data about the specs of a laptop circa 2000 to select the above specs, which I could find in this case. I have no way to say this was, in any way, more or less capable laptop than the ones companies issued or people bought for their homes in those days. In that sense, this is a representative example of that period.
The above laptop had a very interesting spec. It boasted of Pentium III Processor 600 MHZ, 64MB RAM, 6 GB Hard Drive capacity, CD Rom, Speaker. It weighed about 12 lbs (~5.5 kg). Chances are that it had a dial up modem, and you could send files that were 20-100 KB heavy. Even internet connections were sold by lots of 100 hours – I had one connection that allowed 1 hour a day access. What were PCs and laptops used for in those days? To create docs, spreadsheets, slides, pretty much the same office work. Except that files sizes of 200 KB and above were stuck in the outbox for ages. Either you had a work place email account or one assigned by your ISP such as AOL and VSNL, and mind you, the ISPs used to be different from your phone company those days. Hotmail and Yahoo mail were used but very few of us had email accounts.
The idea of watching video on the computer screen mildly existed, but then there was hardly any video content those days. Even if YouTube were to exist in those days, the narrow bandwidth would not have allowed for any meaningful experience. I remember being the proud owner of a 1 megapixel Sony camera, courtesy my brother, who was in Florida those days. It was hard to digest for many of us that images could be stored on the computer and seen on the screen.
What has this got to do with mobile computing?
(Trademarks owned by the respective companies)
Because, today many of us carry a device in our pocket that has the following specs:
- 32 GB storage (My outdated phone as only 16 GB space)
- HD Camera (My outdated phone as 8.1 Mexapixels)
- Connected on 3G+ protocol
- Video, Voice n Text capabilities.
- Less than 230 gms in weight
So here is a device, much more capable and with you almost all the time (even when you are out shopping), is much lighter to carry, can take still pictures and videos. What is more, it is connected on a high speed data link all the time, that makes documents, pictures and videos to be transferred to a similar user in another part of the world. And if you love video calls, you have it too.
In my next post, I would look at some more aspects of this evolution, in the hope that the trendline would show us pointers of where we are headed. I can assure you it is quite exciting to travel the journey.