Although I may be a lone voice in the wireless wilderness, I still believe the personal computer is not only alive, but healthy as a horse.
Sorry, IBM, I am nowhere near ready to wear my computer. I want my machine on the desk where it belongs, or at the very least, in my briefcase. I will not wear it as a hat. I do not want it dangling from my neck, wrist, finger or front tooth.
Furthermore, even though I hate country music, I admit to having a Texan’s sensibility in one relevant respect: I like my stuff big. Don’t make my computer too small. To me, the god of small things is just that — a minor deity.
A Billion PCs
Apparently, I am not alone. Even in our mad rush to meet the future, there are still a few people who agree with me — and we are not just a bunch of nerds with bad haircuts.
A market research group called eTForecasts went along with the crowd in classifying small, handheld Internet appliances and non-PC devices as the wave of the future, but — and this is the important part — it also concluded that PC sales will explode, because they will be needed to support the new little gadgets.
The report, released this month, predicted that the percentage of Web surfers who use small, mobile Internet devices to hook up will skyrocket from two percent now to 55 percent by the year 2005. That translates into 596 million appliances in the world and 1 billion PCs.
“PCs will remain the leading Internet access device — especially for heavy duty usage,” the report said. “By 2005, most Internet users will be accessing the Web from both PCs and information appliances such as Web cellular phones and Web appliances.”
Wave Becomes Trickle
I think the wave of the future will become a trickle when it hits the beach, as novelty wears off and common sense steps in.
I conducted my own informal, unbelievably unscientific survey earlier this week (margin of error plus or minus 100 points). Out of 10 people surveyed — all of whom are PC users — only two said they would buy Internet devices, information appliances or two-way wrist radios.
Of course, it may have been the Fourth of July holiday talking or the fact that my acquaintances are as tech-savvy as the great apes of Borneo, but personally, I think it exemplifies a growing trend.
There are already documented cases suggesting a backlash toward the small things that are creeping into our lives and keeping our work-selves connected in very irritating ways to our personal and private selves.
States are outlawing driving while gabbing on mobile phones. A city in Brazil is issuing fines equivalent to $236 (US$) for those who bother people with their cell phone conversations in public places like libraries, movie theatres and classrooms.
There is actually a commercial that shows a group of yuppies throwing their teeny-tiny, beeping, yammering, high-tech gadgets into the ocean. (Of course, one of them is coerced into drowning his PC too, but you get the point: when it makes it into a commercial, a sentiment is usually pretty close to becoming mainstream.)
High-Tech Harmonic Convergence
See, we are at the cusp of a special kind of harmonic convergence: The sheer momentum of technological innovation is bringing it into alignment with geek-chic.
It’s cool (and I apologize profusely for using that word) right now to look as though you are so important you absolutely have to be in constant touch or else a far-flung business empire or government will come tumbling down.
In point of fact, scientific studies have proven that most cellular phone calls are made to a teenager named Amber in Ames, Iowa, concerning going to the mall right after cheerleading practice.
People will want to be seen with these gadgets for a while. And to be sure, there are those who have a legitimate use for them, like high-tech executives and stockbrokers, and those who want women to think they’re high-tech executives and stockbrokers.
The personal computer found a place in people’s homes all over the world because it is a versatile, legitimate tool that fits our modern times. But, really, there isn’t much need for the average person to be constantly connected to the Internet.
The way I look at it, the Web will still be there when I get home, where I can see it on the big screen.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.