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Wednesday, 3 March 2010


(Originally published on Morten Jorgensen's baseblog INTERMASHONAL TIMES, February 26, 2010)

I must admit that I was somewhat ambivalent, as I am no fan of Apple,
when the AppleTablet hype came to its crescendo. On the one hand, I am extremely impatient to see a permanent eBook solution, but I was fearing that the somewhat snobbish Apple image and the general overpricing of Apple products would make the second phase of the eBook revolution an exclusive epoch for the fashionable and somewhat wealthy. I'd hate to see my books being read by only Apple-heads. But I was ready to do a Canossa, IF the product itself was the groundbreaking gadget, like some of the most optimistic predictions seem to imply.

But with no phone, no camera, no Flash and only one application runningat a time, I find that this iPad review covers fairly my own thoughts:

However, what I do embrace, is the fact that the race is on. Microsoft is working on a tablet, HP as well, and soon there will appear competing gadgets based on Windows 7, as the iPad surely will inspire the competition, just like Nokia's Express series, of which I am a happy user, can be considered an answer to the iPhone.

There can also be argued that while Apple is mainly producing gadgets for the consumer market, the PC is undisputably the computer that is most suitable for businesses.

If we define 'computer' in a traditional and strict sense, i.e. as we so far have known them, one might say that the infamous IBM dismissal of the personal home computer was slightly prophetic after all. The iPad and similar gadgets will appeal to people who use their PC just for browsing and networking. With an eBook reader included, their needs will have been met. "Nobody will want a personal computer at home."

The stationary PC is already being outsold by laptops, but laptops and stationary PCs and iMacs alike are also being undermined by the next generation of television sets. Samsung and other companies are developing TV sets that function more or less like a computer screen. In the future, you will get sets that display a mail icon down in the lower right corner when somebody has sent you a mail, and if somebody makes a comment on one of your Facebook posts, you will get a small red icon in the upper right corner, and Twitter will be running in the left TV margin as you watch "Dexter" Season 10. If Facebook and Twitter hasn't become obsolete as well, that is.

Thus, most people will have a television set at home, maybe a game console as well. Only professionals and die-hard gamers will need more at home.

When leaving home, we will want to carry an All Purpose Device (APD) that covers all our needs. This is why I was never a fan of the single purpose Kindle. When the mobile phone and the camera fused, everybody was delighted. The iPhone infused music to the phone, reducing the iPod to a jogging utility.

But this APD will have to include music, a camera, a phone, chat, an eBook reader and everything else that we are accustomed to on our laptops. As the news-PAPER is mortally wounded, an APD must include the possibility of subscription to newspapers and magazines as well. You may not be willing to pay for your newspaper, but your current subscriptions to web-based magazines like All About Beer, Deer & deer Hunting and Popular Science, will most certainly in the future be downloaded to your APD, pre-paid. However, if the interface is improved, making the web-based newpaper of today seem obsolete, unaestetic and slow, you might even be willing to subscribe to The Guardian or The New York Times, especially if a Breaking News service or some kind of exclusivity is included, even though you may not be willing to pay more than a nominal fee, perhaps spiced with a contribution to a given selection of NGOs.

And the eBook? In a panel debate at the Oslo Science Fiction Festival last autumn, my distinguished colleague Charles Stross argued against my eBook optimism, refering to the sordid fact that only a minority of the Western World's population actually do read books. But that is also a question of price and accessibility. With books and book clubs available on your APD at a far lower cost than the paper book of today, we have no reason to believe that the number of book enthusiasts will drop. However, when it comes to single purpose devices like the Kindle, Mr. Stross may be right.

Today the Norwegian politicians are handing out laptops to all our school children. That might prove to be a costly investment, if HP or MS in a year or two or three come up with an APD that also can read upgradable school books with videos and interactive functions.

Now, all we need is a holographic 42 inch screen that can be projected onto any white wall ...

(Originally published on Morten Jorgensen's baseblog INTERMASHONAL TIMES, February 26, 2010)

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This is the Dassault Vehra, a compact small spacecraft of great versalitity and flexibility. An impressive machine, indeed.