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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Accordance with the Apple Prophecies 

In a comment on my ridiculous prediction post, Andrew asks if I think the revised Apple TV qualifies as my predicted Pippin 2.

Ha ha! It's tempting to answer yes, given that the original Pippin was conceived as a combination set-top box and video game console. The Apple TV doesn't play games, but it sure does sit on top (or given today's TVs, underneath) just like a Pippin! And it brings the content, notably HD-grade content, which was always the missing link with the first version of the Apple TV.

But more importantly, I have decided that as soon as the iPod Touch and iPhone start playing the SDK-developed games that are about to show up, I will declare them to be the Pippin Portable and the P-Gage, respectively.

BTW, charging $20 for the recent upgrade to the iPod Touch is devilish, but the added apps convert that thing from an amusing media player to a handheld wifi device I actually lust after.

Oh, laptop? The MacBook Air is a supremely clever toy, but I would point out the form factor is that of a MacBook, minus a half-inch of thickness, two pounds, and lots of functionality. As an adjunct to a desktop Mac, or possibly backed by a Time Capsule, it probably looks good to those for whom the cost is not a serious consideration. The base MacBook remains the laptop for the rest of us.

I think the Air will be a successful product for Apple, but as a feat of industrial design it largely points out that the fundamental limitation on laptop size is now the screen. You could make the Air smaller, but the screen would shrink beyond what is reasonable these days.

I believe that Apple's new theory is that people who want a laptop smaller than the Air really want an iPhone. It's a good theory.

Comments:
the fundamental limitation on laptop size is now the screen.

Roll-up screens + micro/pico projectors will solve that. (see also the projected keyboard, which solves the other fundamental limitation, albeit at the cost of physical feedback from keys.)
 
I think you're on the right track, sort of, maybe, probably?

We've had all-out wearable computers for years. They have crappy eyewear-mounted displays, which would be less crappy if anyone thought there was a market there. They have whatever ridiculous chorded keyboard is around, some of which are already really efficient if you care to learn them. And voila, a virtually zero-footprint laptop that nobody wants.

There's lots of ways laptops could go, but I suspect that what we'll ultimately see is stuff that evolutionarily grows out of smartphones rather than stuff that shrinks down from laptops, conceptually.

I think the future is an eyewear-mounted "virtual overlay" display. The "HUD" will project a pseudo-keyboard which isn't a real-world object, and the outward-facing camera on the eyewear will watch you type and figure out what key you're trying to hit.

Also, the phenomenon of psi-criminology will be proven to exist, and the names of murderers will be written on little wooden balls.
 
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