Comments on: Jeff Hawkins: Phones to Replace PCs

A recent article in Newsweek looks at the long term and cultural changes brought about by the widespread adoption of mobile phones. The article also has a number of quotes and insights from Jeff Hawkins who predicts the PC will give way to smartphones.
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orev @ 6/7/2004 2:19:35 PM #
At least once a year some visionary predicts that PCs will go away, and whatever X technology (which also happens to be the same tech that said pundit is an expert on) will replace it. It hasn't happened yet, and it's not going to.

The main reason is that you can't carry a 20" screen in your pocket, no matter how much you think that something little is cool. Even the oft-predicted roll-up screens are never going to happpen in a way that is usable for the general consumer.

It's a pretty big indication of how entrenched and necessary the PC is, given that everyone predicts its demise.

RE: Ridiculous
hotpaw4 @ 6/7/2004 3:49:12 PM #
That's true. But PC's now often look nothing like they used to in the past, many now having flat displays and portability previously only attributed to futuristic tablets, network connectivity and heat producing CPU's previously only found in data centers, etc.

Currently a full page display is still far too large for a pocketable device, but that may change if low power heads-up display technology ever become affordable and popular.

RE: Ridiculous
Token User @ 6/7/2004 3:53:06 PM #
What if you had a common standard for docking the device into (or ideally wireless communiction with) larger screens.

Take a look at the OQO type devices. A Windows class PC in a format you can carry in your (large) pocket complete with a small screen, that then gets docked into a larger screen for full size graphics.

My laptop is heading that way. I don't use a desktop anymore ... one the road I use the laptop with all its capability. When at home I dock it and have a full sized keyboard and mouse, as well as a 19" monitor (with the laptop screen acting as a second display).

Hawkins is right ... but he needs the detractors to get out of the way so the visionaries can move forward.

~ "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed." - DV ~

RE: Ridiculous
bringer @ 6/7/2004 5:06:43 PM #
I can easily see a future where my computer will be the size of my current PDA and have the full capability of my PC (except for the full size screen and keyboard). When I walk up to my desktop station at work, it recognizes my pocketable PC via bluetooth and I'm automatically using my keyboard and screen. Then I go home and my desktop recognizes my PC as well. No more need for a full size PC, I can carry it where-ever I go and of course use it without the desktop like I do my PDA now.

RE: Ridiculous
ackmondual @ 6/7/2004 6:59:10 PM #
i think it'll happen, but heavily emphasis on the "'ll" part. It'll be much later on till they figure out how to get larger screens from smaller devices. They already have that idea in use for the T3. Small carry size when compact, and expands to provide hi-res+ resolution. I remember some Jet Li film called "The One" where his inter-reality device where he monitored events had a retractable screen (a circular screen, which was formed by wedges of the circle sliding into place) I think there was some holographic imaging in there as well. Other forms include a PDA that would be able to project images onto walls of other surfaces.

I'd like to see ppl make these kinds of ideas profitable, fair priced, reliable, and practical.

[signature0]the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse[/signature0]
[signature1]My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71.... so ends the "marathon", for now[/signature1]

RE: Ridiculous
margerum @ 6/8/2004 9:48:33 AM #
Whos to say in 10 years we wont have heads up displays or screens that project directly onto your retina?

RE: Ridiculous
RhinoSteve @ 6/8/2004 11:15:00 PM #
Jeff has always had a good vision for the future. When he says "replace" he is talking about that 16 year old girl with a social life, her parents in their 40s wanting to use technology and not embrase it and the 55 year old minister more concerned about people than the latest deal at CompUSA -- he is not talking about geeks that post to newsgroups like you and I.

PCs are well on their way going out of mainsteam for personal communication. Frankly, just put a spam-proof email service in a cell phone and that will sell it. I'd love to see this desk that my computer is on now be gone and back to "normal" with some flat space, pen, paper and maybe a smartphone to do my networking and communications.

The rest of you can keep on playing Doom III and downloading porn.

-- Passive Agressive types need not apply.
RE: Ridiculous
mikecane @ 6/9/2004 8:44:11 AM #
>>>The rest of you can keep on playing Doom III and downloading porn.

Hahahaha. Great line.

RE: Ridiculous
Token User @ 6/9/2004 9:21:52 AM #
The rest of you can keep on playing Doom III and downloading porn.

You have Doom III already! OMG thats awesome. ;^)

Too many people focus on technology for technology's sake - a solution waiting for a problem. Jeff really is emphasising that we are moving to a world of ubiquitous computing - computers everywhere, talking to each other, and such a part of our lives that we don't even kno they are there. We are heading in that direction, but its a long way off. Jeff's vision just takes us one step closer.

~ "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed." - DV ~

RE: Ridiculous
VisorMiser @ 6/13/2004 7:34:18 AM #
If PCs are replaced by anything, it sure as Sherlock won't be by phones! Don't know what meth lab he's been hittin', but no one will ever write-up a set of financial statements on a Treo (a fine product). Hard enough typing a text messages on one.

Remember this is the dude who, along with his buddy Donna Dubinsky, ran HandSpring into the ground at its prime by announcing the demise of the Visor when nearly 100% of its client base owned them.

the VisorMiser
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. -- Sir Winston Churchill


lionloks @ 6/7/2004 2:28:35 PM #
I think Jeff is righton with this comment and with Voice over Internet Protocol at the gate, certainly the mobility of smartphones, its only a matter of time before that will become commercial. As far as PCs being replaced, I certainly think the form factor and operating systems are constantly evolving and Apple is about the closest manufacturer to what future computers OS will look like. Ease of use is "the order of the day" and effeciency.

Winter_ @ 6/7/2004 3:52:04 PM #
In fact, I would like to know if there's something stopping the Zaurus (for example) from being able to do such a thing. There are apps for voice conferencing for Linux, and surely they would be easily (?) portable to the Zaurus. So... what could be the problem? (erm, does it have a microphone?)

(I've been thinking about how nice would be using the PDA like a bluetooth phone handset. The PDA publishes itself as a voice conferencing Bluetooth device - whatever the specifics about profiles and such are - and ... well, that's it. The other end of the BT connection could be a computer doing VoIP or just a specific voice device... telephony, door answering, whatever. The alternative would be using the PDA as a VoIP device, but perhaps that would be more complicated, as that implies an IP network...)

fairsky @ 6/7/2004 6:25:17 PM #
The zaurus does do it.

-Joshua Paine

Winter_ @ 6/8/2004 12:31:39 PM #
Sweet! Thanks for the link! :)

I agree with this

jonecool @ 6/7/2004 2:24:41 PM #
In my opinion, wireless connectivity options will converge to a single device. You'll have 802.11(b-z -whatever), Bluetooth and 3G cellular connectivity on a single chip. Storage capacities for mobile devices will exceed todays 250GB drive on an MMC/SD form factor. Your Hotsync cradle will become a dockingstation for your Smartphone. When you are at the office, you will place your phone in the docking station and it will change the resolution to adapt to to your flat-panel monitor using your office keyboard/monitor instead of the phones display and small thumboard, Adaptive hardware.

When you are finished working, you'll take the phone out of the docking station and the display will adapt back to a form factor that makes sense for a handheld. All your data will remain on the Smartphone, yet the data will be automatically archived to a server in the background (wirelessly) through some other wireless archival service.

I think once we are here, we will have reached the next generation of computing. Just a thought...

RE: I agree with this
whitemiata @ 6/7/2004 3:39:20 PM #
I'm 100% with you on this.

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why this shouldn't happen. It would also make data more secure as you would be carrying your data with you.

The resolution switching technology is here, support for higher resolution is forthcoming, I can't see the technology not converging.

I'm holding out on joining the smartphone revolution for a time when the costs become commodized.

Personally I'm already ready for this revolution to take place... if I had to choose between separating myself from my PDA or my PC, the PC'd be out the door in an instant.

The only things that my PC can do that my PDA cannot which I would miss are:

1. Photoshop
2. Storage of large amounts of data
3. A large screen for reading/painting etc.
4. Connectivity to hobby-devices, like my Wacom pressure-sensitive tablet.

That's an astonishingly short list if you think about it. Bottom line, if I weren't such a graphics enthusiast I'd be only some extra storage away from tossing my PC!


Not so fast!
Winter_ @ 6/7/2004 3:50:56 PM #
It would also make data more secure as you would be carrying your data with you.

Usually, the security of data is achieved thru backups... look at what your Hotsync does! Taking always your data with you is to put it at risk. In fact, Palm* uses that argument to advertise Palms.

Anyway, you look too eager to put away the PC. Looks like he only says "they'll fade into the background"! (whatever that means). And that point about "preferring devices that don't have to boot up" is a bit lame. My Mac OS X, 6 years old iMac has right now an uptime of 10 days... (and only 10 days because I installed an update).

You mention you want lots of CPU (photoshop!) and lots of storage. I'd say that, no matter how good things get on the portable side, a desktop (or small home server) computer will have some magnitudes more. So perhaps you'd be better served with a powerful (radio) network? (and network capable devices, of course...)

However, if you want to be futuristic... what about those retinal laser interfaces? (on the last 5 years, there has been continuous improvements on the field!). Couple that with some kind of Bluetooth 2 to avoid cables and it could get interesting ;). Intel has been pushing some pulsed radio technology that should bring lots of bandwidth (literally! sorry, radio engineer joke ;) with small battery usage...

RE: I agree with this
hotpaw4 @ 6/7/2004 4:07:48 PM #
someone wrote:
> The only things that my PC can do that my PDA cannot which I would miss are:
> 1. Photoshop

The way the big studios do this may point the way toward the future. You'll buy time on a large renderfarm (with lots of noisy fans and cooling towers) to do your Photoshop, and use a high bandwidth wireless link to download fast previews as you edit.

RE: I agree with this
Zippy @ 6/7/2004 4:10:26 PM #
I'm totally ready to take the plunge and dump the PC...but not quiet yet. As a matter of fact, other than surfing with a large screen, I really do not have much use for one. OK, I still need it for printing etc... but alot of this stuff will be readily capable in a few years from a PDA or smartphone. I know it's possible to print now, but it's painful.

Tracking business expenses, Invoices and payments, quotations to clients etc... all or most of my work is done on my T3.

The other day this babe walked up the the Palm counter at Future shop and told the dork there "OK, i've had it with waiting for my laptop to boot up...Please tell me I can work on excel documents with these things and check my email!" He then proceeded to tell her all about Palms.

The inconvenience of laptops is the only reason I "discovered" the joys of Palming.

RE: I agree with this
Doo @ 6/7/2004 4:19:39 PM #
Once the net becomes wireless, mobile storage (ie SD, CF or MS) will be gone. Why carry the data when it's on the net? Coverage area you say. 20 years from now there will be no dead spots. The world well be wired.

RE: I agree with this
luckie @ 6/7/2004 4:31:45 PM #
I like jonecool's plan (see post above). Sign me up!

RE: I agree with this
Palm Cow @ 6/7/2004 4:39:59 PM #
You mean wireless.

I'm still thinking gaming with this.

Chess or Chyes
Palm Cow loves it.

Michael Dell Disagrees

Gekko @ 6/7/2004 5:22:04 PM #
"If you look at any PDA today, the biggest button on it is the point where you synchronize it with the PC. Few people have a PDA and not a PC. We still expect the PDA market to grow, as well as WAP phones, but people will always have a notebook or a desktop PC." - Michael Dell

RE: Michael Dell Disagrees
jonecool @ 6/7/2004 5:39:01 PM #
Not entirely or he would have avoided the PDA business all together. Obviously he recognized that this is a market with room for another major player. At this point, it wouldn't be wise for him to make any other claim ;-) Afterall, PC's are Dell's bread and butter. In the future, it may be Servers, Terminals and Adaptive Smartphones. We are talking a 10+ years from now, not the present time.

RE: Michael Dell Disagrees
twalk @ 6/7/2004 9:44:14 PM #
Dell views PDAs as just a loss-leader. Something they need to get some more PC deals. Otherwise they wouldn't be in it. Michael Dell was quoted a few years back as saying (in effect) that the PDA market was a stupid market to get into, and that Dell wouldn't go there. Business-wise, there are really smart people in Dell, and they didn't start shipping PDAs because they thought that they could make money on them. This helps them keep pressure on HP, just like the cheap printers that they now sell.

Whats a PC to do

borgiaX @ 6/7/2004 8:45:10 PM #
I think Jeff is off base here.
Smartphones and PDA's are useful because they act as information archives, wether its a phone number, a birthdate, a schedule for the local team or the days headlines. Their value lies in the easy access to a specific set of information elements.
A PC on the other hand is a general purpose device. Mom uses it to create an orignial birthday card with photos from the last family trip, kids do their homework which can run the gamut, I use it to get the best price comparison on tech toys :), its uses are legion.
The suggestion that the specialist device will replace the general purpose is hard to swallow. The PC is more than just a database or a spreadsheet, its more than a large screen. Its one of the selling points of the Palm OS that it has more software available for it than the Pocket PC. Anyone want to take a guesstimate of how many programs are out there for the dominant PC OS ?

Flagrans Veritatis Studio

RE: Whats a PC to do
twalk @ 6/7/2004 9:18:59 PM #
Take a PDA. Add a vga output (like a couple of PDAs already have). Add a usb master port (like a couple of PDAs already have). Now you have in effect a PC.

With the vga port you can connect any monitor you want. With the usb master port you can connect a usb hub, to which you can connect a KB, mouse, and HD. The same things can also be done for smartphones.

The only significant differences between PDAs and PCs is the size of the package and the OS they run. ie, these are not specialty devices at all, but can potentially run lower powered versions of any program that a PC can.

RE: Whats a PC to do
maao @ 6/8/2004 11:42:24 AM #
The only reason the PDA is a specialty device today is because that's how the software was designed. But the hardware is a general computing device. The interface (no video out, minimal external input) and capacity (cpu, storage) available to it are the only things keeping it from being used as a good desktop. Once they come out with smaller processors, smaller and larger storage units, higher density static memory, and wireless input capability, then you'll have a mobile PC in your palm.
RE: Whats a PC to do
mousky @ 6/8/2004 2:31:44 PM #
You forgot one thing: battery life. The more you add to the PDA (master USB, vga out), the more power it takes to run it. A mobile device such as a PDA is useless if you have to plug it in every day or more to keep it charged or to even use it.

I am Canadian
RE: Whats a PC to do
tfftruoa @ 6/10/2004 12:06:48 AM #
A full desktop OS is less demanding than one may think. I could run 98 with 64 megs of RAM and a 400mhz celeron. That's the same specs as my TT3 or a TC or most pocket PCs. I currently have XP Pro running beautifully on the same machine, but now I have 256 RAM. That's not out of reach for the near future of PDA's. You can fit a full install of XP on that new 2 gig mmc card and run it like a hard drive, and you can get up to 12 gigs worth of hard drive space in a cf model.

That is windows. Linux you can install on adsolutely anything. I once heard someone say that you could install linux on a Bic lighter if you wanted to, and while that may have been a tad hyperbolic, it really demonstrates how very little linux neads to run. You can instal linux on a wifi router, on a usb minidrive, on a SD card, hell, even on a floppy, and it requires so little processing power to do all but the most complex tasks on a linux machine.

As much as I love Palm OS, desktop OSs simply do more. They have more software, more compatability, more capability, and simply more power.

I think it'll be the other way around from hawkins statement. PCs will replace smartphones. They won't be on the desk anymore, but they will still be running the same software and smaller versions of the same hardware.

The Federation for the Responsible Use of Acronyms

All over this

Hazniet @ 6/7/2004 10:42:53 PM #
This is a great idea and I'm all about it. Right now I use my T3 for just about everything but internet (waiting for palm's SD wifi card!). Windows is getting to be such a complicated OS for what its basic function needs to be.
I like how I can turn on my device instantly, work on my documents, and then shut it off that quickly. I plug in my sd card...bam...there's my information. I turn on my bluetooth, find my phone...bam...instant internet and contact sharing. Select the beam colleague has the information they need. I don't need an overcomplicated file structure or an OS that does everything.
Technology is a great thing as long as it assists the end user. The more complicated it becomes to use the less people will use it. A device can be very technologically complicated so long as the device is easy to use.

If you feel like you're under control, you're just not going fast enough.
RE: All over this
tfftruoa @ 6/7/2004 11:09:52 PM #
It's really great being able to ditch the desktop. I have a SE T68i for internet, though I might buy a wifi sd when it comes out for the faster connection at home and school. I also need a bluetooth printing solution, but the usb port on my printer is an odd shape and doesnt accept my regular USB bluetooth adapter. (anyone know how to make those funky printer cables connect to regular usb ?)

One bg thing that's in the way: USB host. The latest version of USB does not require a "host", I've been told, though I'm not sure how that works. I dont think palms or ppc's support this, so until then, a USB host port it critical. I have some great usb stuff such as keyboards, storage, card readers, etc, but all of it needs to be linked up to my pc to work.

Imagine, the proprietary connector on the bottom of all palms and ppc's replaced by a real, full sized, USB port. Usable for syncing, charging, and periferals, this would add so much to the overall pda experience and provide a simple way to conect to another pda or pc. There are USB harddrives, dvd players, wifi and bluetooth adapters, the possibilities are really endless.

My $0.03. Rant over.

The Federation for the Responsible Use of Acronyms

RE: All over this
Winter_ @ 6/8/2004 10:37:35 AM #
You want host-less USB? Well, what about Firewire? It was designed to work with or without a host. And you have 400 Mbps...

RE: All over this
tfftruoa @ 6/8/2004 9:52:06 PM #
Firewire would be good for Mac users, but most older PC's simply dont have them and there are far less firewire accesories than there are USB ones, and an equivilant firewire device costs more than its USB counterpart. Firewire also needs its own processor, wheras USB uses tehe main processor and ona modile device, an extra processor for the port is just plain wasteful.

Who am I kididng, let's do both!

The Federation for the Responsible Use of Acronyms

Hopefully they will solve...

Cheetah @ 6/7/2004 11:49:02 PM #
...the battery problem and chip heat problem...both significant problems to the kinda power and usability needed on these small devices to take over the Universe the way Hawkins envisions.

1n 20 years I can see it, although that's not much of a visionary statement by Hawkins. Anything is possible (and safe to predict) if the horizon is that far out.

What will happen in FIVE years??? That's what I want to know. What's Palm's vision for the 3-5 year horizon?

Hawkins is right

mikecane @ 6/8/2004 10:09:18 AM #

I'd like them to tell me...

rlauzon @ 6/8/2004 7:14:59 PM #
How do I take notes while talking on the phone?
Or how do I read information while using the phone?

Phones replace PCs? Ya, right. He's been saying that for years. Handspring decided to drop the PDA and go into the phone/PDA market and look what happened to it.

I can definately see a PDA that works well with your phone, but as long as you can only use one half of a PDA/phone combo at any time, it's worthless to the majority of people out there.

RE: I'd like them to tell me...
mikecane @ 6/9/2004 8:45:47 AM #
>>How do I take notes while talking on the phone?
>>Or how do I read information while using the phone?

Good points. You can add a third one too:

How can I dictate a voice memo while talking on the phone?

RE: I'd like them to tell me...
Winter_ @ 6/9/2004 8:56:45 AM #
Both points can be solved by using a Bluetooth headset - though that converts the smartphone back to some kind of PDA...



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