[Flickr credit: Coyotejack.] Around late 2006, there was a report that the number of mobile phones had outstripped landlines in North America – a pattern headed for duplication elsewhere in the world. Then the iPhone, a revolutionary communication device, appeared and those lucky Americans that got one probably rejoiced. The iPhone offers true mobile browser access in a handy package – reportedly with an expensive two-year overall contract cost.
But what about the rest of us? There isn’t another phone that comes close to the size of the iPhone and simultaneously offers true mobile browsing. If there is, after a year of looking, I haven’t found it. (The iPhone still hasn’t come to Canada.) Well okay, there’s the CECT T5 T32 iPhone clone [via RedFerret], though I’m talking about something official, from a known phone manufacturer. (If I’m going to spend over $200 on a phone, it’d better be something I can rely on.)
Here are a few questions for you. Even if you could afford the overall expense of an iPhone – which according to numerous bloggers is pretty high for a two-year contract – would you actually want to do your web work on it? What about one of those UMPC (Ultra-mobile PC) style of “laptop” computers? Do you find these handy? For those of you with iPhones, how do you use them? For browsing or actual work? If you work on your iPhones, how long do you spend at any given time?
If you’ve ever worked for several hours consecutively on a laptop with a touchpad instead of a mouse, you know how much your fingers or hand aches afterwards. Back in 2005, when I first started blogging regularly, I used a large laptop with touchpad, spending 4-8 hours on any given day. Hand cramps were a regular experience. The word ergonomic certainly doesn’t apply to touchpads.
With the iPhone there aren’t even any physical buttons. Could you fathom having to work for long hours on an iPhone or something similar – or worse yet, something smaller? (Especially with no physical buttons or toggles – only touch-sensitive screens?)
Probably not, right? Well software manufacturers must think some of us intend to actually work on small mobile devices, not just browse. I’m assuming this based on the increasing number of complex software apps that are showing up on small screens – for example, video editing. Seriously? Do they think we’ll come around after we try it?
Of course, there’ll always be some hardcore geek that thinks this sort of thing is fantastic – until eyestrain sets in. For the rest of us, it’s unlikely that we could comfortably work for extended periods on the smaller mobile devices. At least, no amount of cool app for small mobile devices is going to entice me.
Consider an alternative: An affordable heads-up display (HUD) goggles (aka HMD – head-mounted display) and wearable devices to support true ultra-mobile computing. Some of these goggles have virtual screens equivalent to viewing a 60-inch monitor, maybe larger, and they’re projected in front of your retina – supposedly safely – while allowing you to still take in your surroundings. (Think of the helmet displays that Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark has in the Iron Man movie. Except without the clunky helmet.)
Provided that the data input devices are comfortable to use and compact (possibly digital pens with virtual interaction, or gaming-style toggles), then you’ve got me salivating. Instead of the older “brick” style of computer that you’d drop into a large pocket, you might be able to power such a mobile “workstation” with the next generation version of the iPhone. So what if it all looks geeky if it’s comfortable and works well?
What about you? Am I full of it? Could you work on a small mobile device such as the iPhone? Or would you rather have an HUD/ HMD setup possibly driven by a more powerful version of the iPhone?