Why the iPhone isn’t really a phone

20 February 2008

Now that the hype has died down, we can take a more dispassionate look at the Apple iPhone. It’s not really a phone. It’s the ultimate PDA, which happens to also have a phone, like all PDAs do these days. PDAs became obsolete when smartphones offered all the same functions, and a phone to boot. So PDAs became phones.

Except the iPod, which offered something most PDAs and all smartphones couldn’t – massive storage for music and video, and a slick interface for enjoying your digital entertainment.

Now comes the iPhone, with its touch screen, calender, contacts, calculator – sounds like a PDA, doesn’t it? It’s also an iPod; the 16GB version is already out and 32GB can’t be far behind. It’s not really a phone – it doesn’t even have 3G, considered de rigueur for smartphones these days.

But it does have a super slick touch interface and beautifully clear screen, with pinch zoom and high quality video playback. And a great web browser and document viewer. So it could be the ultimate PDA.

In fact, with a little tweaking and some essential extras like GPS, Bluetooth and 3G/WiMAX, the iPhone could become that holy grail gadget that convergence freaks have been dreaming of. After all, who wants to take an iPod, Blackberry, Sidekick, Garmin, uPC and digicam with them wherever they go?

As someone has already written, the iPhone is not the best computer – but it’s the one in your pocket. Maybe one day we’ll have a word for that digital device that is a multimedia player/ web tablet/ pocket computer/ navigator/ ebook reader/ camcorder/ personal TV/ pager and cell phone. We’ll call it an iphone.

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7 February 2008
Not off their shores – off yours!

Dateline: 7 February 2010
    In an amazing New World manufacturing coup, China has delivered 170 factory ships just outside the territorial waters of the United States. These are not fish factories, but fully functional floating industrial enterprises, with their own power, workforce quarters, clinics, broadband communications and regular supplies of raw materials.
    Now you can order any Chinese commodity you need, and rest assured that it will be manufactured overnight, just 220 miles offshore, and delivered the very next morning.


As large as aircraft carriers or oil rigs, these floating cities have been purpose-built for mass consumer goods manufacturing. Some even have runways for freighter planes to land on their huge upper decks.
    In typical sweatshop style, entire families of shift workers remorselessly  churn   out   the goods for the eager American consumer public,


 a mere stone’s throw from the major markets of New York, Washington, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
    "We have cut down our delivery times significantly," said secretary general of Maritime Manufacturing John Chen with an inscrutable smile, "and shopping directly at the factory ships is tax-free."
    The future of American manufacturing looks bleak indeed, but then, most consumer products already say ‘Made in China’.
  That hasn’t changed, China just got a whole lot closer.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The future scenarios featured in MindBullets are purely fictitious and intended to be an exercise in strategic thinking only. FutureWorld makes no representations that any of these scenarios will actually take place. In some cases, reference may be made to the names of actual companies or individuals; however, the use of actual names in these scenarios do not, and should not be taken to, imply that those named companies and/or individuals are in any way involved in or associated with those or any other scenarios or that they endorse any part of those or any other scenarios. Parallels or analogies with actual facts or events are purely coincidental. Image courtesy of stock-xchng. All MindBullets content is Copyright FutureWorld (International) Limited © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

For the full story read MindBullets online.

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Coolest GPS yet

4 February 2008

Ever mouthed obscenities at your GPS that keeps telling you to go back? Now there’s a great new SatNav system from Virtual Cable that just shows you the right way to go, while you concentrate on the road and traffic ahead. Granted, you need a heads-up display, and it’s still in development, but I can’t think of a more user-friendly driver navigation aid.

Navigation system gives drivers a visible lifeline

Courtesy of Springwise

Phone screens of the future

22 January 2008
A Dutch company has squeezed a display the size of two business cards into a gadget no bigger than other mobile phones — by making a screen that folds up when not in use.

The 5-inch (13-cm) display of Polymer Vision’s "Readius" is the world’s first that folds out when the user wants to read news, blogs or email and folds back together so that the device can fit into a pocket.


Courtesy of Reuters

The most portable wallet?

8 January 2008

Korea: USB Credit Card Brings Korea to the 22nd Century

“Not only can you wave this thing in front of a register like Harry Potter trying to Wingardium Leviosa Hermione’s dress, you can plug this into your computer to make online purchases as well. It saves you the trouble of either remembering your CC number or fetching your wallet every time you want to buy a copy of, say, an iPhone book on Amazon.”


 Courtesy of Trends

Electric cars can be mobile generators too

7 December 2007

To me this is a fairly obvious scenario, which I expanded on in the MindBullet TOYOTA LAUNCHES A CAR FOR THE GREEN CENTURY many months ago. New Scientist now reports a first step along this path – using idle cars for overnight storage.

Electric cars could act as batteries for the energy grid

Electric and hybrid cars could act as energy stores for the power grid while not being driven, say US researchers. Scientists from the University of Delaware are using a new prototype made by US company AC Propulsion to store or supply grid electricity when required.

This electric car uses its battery to supply or store grid electricity when in the garage and smooth out peaks in demand – just 100 of the vehicles could provide 1 megawatt of storage (Image: Willett Kempton/University of Delaware)

The logical extension of this idea, using fuel cell powered hybrids, would be to have the cars provide extra power into the grid, say at dinner time, when most cars are in the garage and most households are cooking, and then charge up in the early hours of the morning, when demand is low. A simple dual-direction grid meter would ensure the car owner / householder would get the benefit of contributing to the utility demand.

Printing solar cells

6 December 2007

I’ve been boosting this idea for years. Now it seems like it’s gaining traction:

NANOSOLAR: Solar-cell Coating
“The PowerSheet is made from a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink that is printed onto a foil-thin metal sheet. According to the company, this technology has several key advantages. It is cheaper to make, as the process can produce several hundred feet of solar panels per minute, making it viable to generate a watt of electricity for less than $1, almost cheaper than what it would cost to produce by burning coal.”
Spotted by Trends

News from the Future: FaceBank

6 December 2007

Here’s today’s MindBullet. Get the full story with a detailed scenario analysis online.


If you don’t have a full subscription, you can get a preview of the detailed analysis here. Rate this post with the buzzfuse widget below…

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The future of media: Books

5 December 2007
In Japan Half The Top Selling Books Are Written On Mobile Phones
With all the talk about Amazon’s Kindle, there’s a bigger revolution taking place and those who studied classic literature will be horrified. In Japan, half of the top ten selling works of fiction in the first six months of 2007 were composed on mobile phones.


According to the Sydney Morning Herald, mobile phone novels (keitai shousetsu) have become a publishing phenomenon in Japan, “turning middle-of-the-road publishing houses into major concerns and making their authors a small fortune in the process.”

One book, Koizora (Love Sky) about high-school girl who is bullied, gang-raped, becomes pregnant has sold more than 1.2 million copies since being released.

Courtesy of TechCrunch

Print me up a power pack

22 November 2007

I’ve posted before on the future ability to ‘print’ almost anything that can be manufactured using micro and nano techniques. Simply put, modern ink-jet printers are so precise and controllable, they can deposit particles (of ink or other nano compounds) in minutely useful layers and combinations. So it’s not a far stretch to eventually printing cell phones, OLED TV screens, solar PV ‘paint’, even living tissue!

Where it gets very interesting for me, is the potential for storing cartridges of chemical compounds, relatively inert, which when printed in the right way produce an active device – like batteries. This has already been done in the labs, and now can even be reproduced with ordinary zinc-carbon materials:

Nanotechnology researchers at the University of California have made "nanotube ink" from the chemicals used in an ordinary battery, thereby making it possible to print batteries onto surfaces like paper.

Lead researcher George Gruner has revealed that he used the same zinc-carbon chemistry in his batteries as are used in ordinary non-rechargeable batteries.

He believes that the technique to print flexible batteries onto different surfaces may prove helpful in powering disposable devices like long-range RFID tags or small displays.

Courtesy of Innovation Watch