Kindles, NetBooks, iPhones, the Defragmentation of devices and how .Mac Might help
I've recently used a Kindle for the first time and really enjoyed it. As readers of this site know I am the proud owner of an Acer Aspire One running OS X. And, of course, being the Apple-head that I am, I have an iPhone.
What is fascinating about all these different devices is they all share very similar specifications:
Kindle, iPhone, NetBook, MacBook Pro
1. A screen
2. Either built-in, or an option for always there internet
3. Ability to input information
4. Ability to connect to the internet
5. Ability to browse the web
6. Ability to play music
The more technology advances the more we are seeing not the one perfect device, but a number of devices that specialize in a use-case and try to perfect themselves around that. The Kindle's reason for being is reading, the iPhone is to be the smartest smart-phone you will ever buy, the NetBook to be a cheap, portable second machine, and the MacBook Pro is a powerhouse portable laptop.
Back in the day, pre-cellphone and pre-PC people owned one portable electronic device, a Walkman. Now it is typical for people to have two cellphones or smartphones (one work, one personal), at least two computers, one personal, one work, and any number of combinations of iPods, Kindles, and NetBooks.
Still, I think we will look back at this point in history and see that we were really at just the beginnings of this hyper multi-device world. In the future the things we can do with our devices will be much more complex and sophisticated, but I also believe that these devices will operate more as an ecosystem than they do now.
.Mac and other technologies is the first step in this vision. It allows my iPhone and my other Macs to stay in sync with bookmarks, keychain items, email accounts, and more. But what I'm talking about is a quantum leap beyond the closed and limited experience of .Mac.
In this new world my digital world follows me around from device to device completely. Whether I am using a public computer at a hotel, a computer in a hotel room, or watching TV at a friends house, flying on a plane with a screen in the seat, these devices will adjust for who I am just by walking in the room. My user profile, documents, desktop, everything will just appear.
Now what does this vision have to do with Apple? A lot, or possibly nothing. What Apple has is the rudimentary beginnings of this technology with .Mac. My preferences, notes, etc. are indeed in the cloud and Apple has found a way for my iPhone and Mac to understand them. But Apple needs to take this many steps forward and turn .Mac into the protocol for inter-computer communication laying the foundation for the future I described.
Yes, these are early days, and yes my vision may be completely wonky, but within .Mac ($99 a year aside) I think Apple has some gems of a technology. It is time, like with iTunes, to expose it to the rest of the computersphere.