Friday, 7 May 2010

The Wave of the Future

Prophecy is for fools, I know, but here’s a bit of propheteering on my behalf.
In my previous post, discussing alarm clocks, I predicted iPods and iPhones will not be with us for that much longer. While Apple is guaranteed to try and prove me wrong I pointed at my old bedroom CD / cassette player boom box and its inevitable demise: in the age where one stick holds a gazillion CDs, who’s going to listen to CDs?
Sure, Apple has its nice gizmos. But Apple’s empire is built on a foundation that requires exclusiveness (manifested and maintained through the need to anything and everything via iTunes, Apple’s dictatorship of an application). Once we’d be able to get the same functionality and the same user experience from open source alternatives there’s not going to be much of a reason for us to stick to the Apple regime, unless Apple continues to do what it has been doing for a while and keep coming up with inventions that create new markets. Well, one day Apple is going to come up with a dud, while in the mean time Google Android is already better than the iPhone in many respects and is gaining ground faster than Apple can run away (Gizmodo’s look at the next generation iPhone provides evidence for the iPhone's relative lack of future innovation). To put it another way, there is a limit to the amount of time you can withhold technology such as Flash from your gadgets and still get away with it because you're trying to protect your business model while trying to spin things out as if HTML5 would solve all of this world's problems.
My prediction? Our alarm clocks shall soon be connected to that great contents shop in the sky, the internet. Services such as Rhapsody already let you access all the music you’ll ever want to $12 (USA dollars) a month, roughly the cost of a CD, so why do your shopping elsewhere?
In fact, I may already happen to have my future music player with me. My old Asus Eee PC 701, running Eeebuntu Linux and consuming just 25w of power, can play Rhapsody’s music as much as I want. It’s Linux, which means it’s stable and can be left on for months without rebooting; and it’s got minimal power requirements, so it’s not like having my proper stereo on all the time. The only upgrade this system might need is some PC like powered speakers for a slightly more acceptable sound.
No, I don’t see myself using the 701 this way yet, for the simple reason it’s not a particularly elegant solution. But when the day comes and I decide to take the Rhapsody plunge (a decision that’s mostly to do with when my two year old will let me listen to the music I’m interested in), something like that may well be implemented at our household.
Unless, of course, enough time passes and boom boxes tailor made to use the internet come out and rid this world of the current generation of boom boxes tailor made for iPods/iPhones.

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