As Brighthand is a web site that talks a good deal about mobile technology, the answer to the question asked in title of this editorial might seem very simple: the future of computing lies in its mobility.
However, I’d like to propose that this answer is too simple, and depending on one very important factor might have several connected but different solutions.
The World In Your Pocket
Almost since the dawn of computing, it’s been pretty much assumed that the huge storehouse that is a computer would become, in time, something that could fit in your pocket. And such is the case today.
You can get a computer that is the size of a credit card (and not much thicker than five of them stacked). There are mobile computers with 22 inch screens, and others with 2 inches ones. As both of these make a window into all our world has to offer, they’re very much the things of dreams.
However, here’s where the complexity comes in. When you’re talking about mobile computers, there are laptops, tablets, ultra-mobile PCs (UMPC), PDAs, smartphones, feature phones, personal media players, and personal game players. That’s a whole lot of mobile options for there to be a simple answer to the question at hand.
The X Factor
The future of computing is indeed one part mobile. But the biggest factor at play is us. What are our needs for connectivity, information, knowledge-sharing, travel, and commerce?
The tool has to be able to connect to a network that has the needed information, but how the information retrieval process happens depends on the person, finances available, and need,
This is not at all different than going shopping at a grocery store. We all need to eat. Depending on the size of the mouths to feed, the budget, and how much time we are willing to spend in preparation, the outcome will be different. It was only the store (the network) that remains the constant.
The Real Answer to the Future of Computing
As much as sometimes we might not want it to be, the future of computing is contained in the network. Some have classified this as "computing in the cloud." Basically where the devices are just an entry and processing point, but all the information that would be needed is contained in the network cloud.
I am not sure if that is what the founders of what we call modern computing were thinking when they made the first computer. But it’s undeniably true that what they started has us moving from a room, to a desk, to our laps, and then our palms, and finally to the heavens.
Maybe not the most appealing thought to some, but as a view of where we are going, one can imagine that will be quite the thing to behold.