Sci-fi suggests a one-device future — and Microsoft (and Apple) should pay attention

Clamshell-style flip phones, reminiscent of the communicators from the 1960s cult classic Star Trek, were once the dominant mobile device among consumers.

Flip phones untethered us from our homes, allowing us to communicate on-the-go. They also introduced a shift in telephony where phones became associated with "our person" rather than "our place of residence." Bulky enterprise-focused smartphones existed in the shadow of these consumer-focused feature phones.

Early mobile phones had hardware keyboards and tiny screens. Despite rudimentary internet access and basic apps, they, like the phones that preceded them, were used primarily for phone calls.

Apple changed everything in 2007 when it introduced the iPhone, a slate-shaped, touch-centric, keyboard-less mobile device that's not used primarily for phone calls. Given the benefit of hindsight, history may define the advent of the iPhone as the dawn of the ubiquitous "mini-tablet" personal computer.

Science fiction predicted mini tablets

Tablets from Star Trek: the Next Generation (1987).

Tablets from Star Trek: the Next Generation (1987).

Our proximity to the "feature phone age," and our living through the evolution of the "smartphone age," may be clouding our collective vision of the true nature of our devices. Most people don't realize that what we call smartphones are really tablet computers.

History may define the iPhone's advent as the dawn of ubiquitous mini-tablet computers.

By virtue of design, function and usage patterns, smartphones are very similar to tablets. The future of ubiquitous slate computers is now.

Science fiction predicted always-connected, highly personal mobile computers, often in tablet form, that perform various functions, interact with devices around us and function as communicators. Sound familiar? It should. From safeguarding our personal information to interacting with smart devices, smartphones do all of these things.

Related: Smartphones are dead

Sci-fi writers are seers of the future

Science fiction writers are often visionaries with an understanding of current technology and a broad perspective of how technology may evolve. They're capable of articulating technology's logical progression, and can also paint pictures of the social, moral and cultural impacts of technological shifts.

We need to see past now to envision the future.

Though some innovations have been influenced by the genre, this isn't a claim that science fiction is the foundation for all future technologies. It is, instead, an attempt to help us look beyond the busyness of our present to see how current technology was predicted in the past. Hopefully, we'll then clearly see how we're now in the age of the tablet computer, not the smartphone.

That perspective will position us to see what current "predictions" are saying about the future beyond mini tablets (smartphones) and how modern technology and tech companies are orchestrating that future.

iPhone brought PC power to pockets

When former Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he stressed the ability to touch our data by removing the keyboard and stylus. Therefore, the display of the first, subsequent and iPhone-inspired smartphones that followed dominate these devices. Thus, the "tablet" form factor. A common sci-fi theme.

Furthermore, the variety of apps and the evolving power of these devices has put much, but not all, desktop computing power into our pockets.

The limitations imposed by mobile OSes and user interfaces, limited processor power and a static slate form factor prevent these devices from doing everything a desktop computer can do, however. Thus, we're still, for now, dependent on multiple devices to accomplish different personal computing tasks.

What's next in personal computing?

Science fiction predicts that one day, one device will serve all of our personal computing needs. Before you flippantly dismiss this notion, realize that seeing a shift during the shift, is often difficult due to limitations of current technology and infrastructure.

Thirty years ago consumers would have doubted the ubiquitous smartphone.

For instance, 30 years ago average consumers would have had as difficult a time accepting the idea of ubiquitous, always-connected, pocketable tablet computers (smartphones) for everyone, as some of you may struggle with the idea of one device for all scenarios. Yet, here we are.

Broadly available high-speed internet, powerful processors, touchscreen technology, the intelligent cloud and more has made what looked like an unrealistic sci-fi dream three decades ago as common as the automobile. As technology's evolution made mobile devices a natural part of our lives today, it will do the same for the next step in computing in the near future.

Shift to a single computing device is natural evolution

Companies like Google, Samsung, and Microsoft are rumored to be making devices or platforms that can serve all computing scenarios as foretold in science fiction.

Will Samsung beat Microsoft with in ultimate mobile device?

Google's advantages are a broad mobile user base via Android, a growing desktop base via Chrome and strong OEM partnerships. If Android and Chrome merge, Google could showcase mobile and desktop context-sensitivity on a first-party device to inspire partners. Propped on its cloud and AI efforts, first-party services, and massive ecosystem, such a device could define the category.

Samsung's potential foldable device, proven pen technology, Viv-based unbounded AI and Continuum-like tech might also make a device based on merged Android and Chrome OS a success.

Ready or not, the future cometh

Many readers are justifiably cynical about Microsoft's efforts. But barring its failures and poor commitment to mobile, its vision, like that of other companies, aligns with the industry's direction and science fiction's vision of the future.

The popular sci-fi HBO program "Westworld" showcased a mobile device based on context-sensitive hardware and software. Microsoft's UWP, context conforming CShell, and Core OS are real technologies that can make such a device a reality.

Microsoft's platform approach is better equipped than its rivals, to accommodate context-conforming hardware such as a foldable device with a pen and inking focus. But Microsoft has its problems.

Did Microsoft give us a glimpse of its Surface phone vision?

Mobile and desktop computing converge

The versatile device we see in "Westworld" (above) inspires us with visions of where personal computing is heading.

As the industry segues from a pocketable tablet age to the single device for all scenarios age, Microsoft is in the precarious position of being virtually absent from the current pocketable mobile space.

Ironically, Microsoft's platform approach via Core OS, CShell, Continuum and UWP give it the best platform for a Westworld-style multi-purpose device with potential mixed reality integration for "Minority Report"-like holographic computing. But the company lacks developer support and a consumer presence. If it had been successful in mobile, even cynics would acknowledge that Microsoft would have had an unobstructed bridge to the one device for all scenarios device category.

Microsoft's rivals have developers, apps, and consumers, but a less comprehensive end-to-end platform for a single device for all scenarios.

Just a matter of time

No one company has all of the pieces to this puzzle, but technology has a way of getting to where it's going. I believe we will transition from a post-smartphone mini-tablet age to a single-personal-computing-device-for all-scenarios age.

The early devices in this category, like early mobile phones, will be just the beginning. Given time, the evolution of technology and infrastructure, just as with smartphones, these devices will become more powerful, more prolific and eventually commonplace. And holographic computing will likely be part of the mix.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • Geostorm shows a nice pen-like convertible device.
  • Uhhh...
    "iPhone brought PC power to pockets" Dude, try again. 
  • I guess it depends on your definition of a PC.  If he means by PC something that can browse the web, get emails and write documents, then I guess he's right.  But a PC should be much more than that...
  • I was browsing, getting emails and writing docs on my WindowMobile 5.5-6, well before iPhone. It all depends on how old you are to what history will tell you.
  • Apple's Reality Distortion Field can change the past.....
  • Apples new innovation that isn't heavily copied from other companies will make the next big change... ohh wait.
  • Hi Sean my original heading was "some" PC power. It was edited for length. 😉
  • Jason,  have you seen the two corning "a day in the life" videos?  what do you think of those?  
  • Smartphones are PC... Sean, try again.
  • LMAO... Really smartphones are pc ? then call them PC... are you going to tell me you can program on your smartphone ? really ? a pc is a computer... a smartphone is a phone who can do a little bit more... its more than a tablet with the possibility to make a phone call... surface pro is a pc... the ipad or android tablets... ar just tablets... You are developping apps for those not on smartphones... but on computer who can run windows or OS of mac... but not on windows mobile... ( who is dead thx to microsoft) not on android... and not on IOS... in case you still believe that a smartphone is a PC... well go to see your boss and ask him to change all  his pc's company to smartphones...   
  • PC stands for personal computer, and you definitely do personal computing on smartphones. A minority of people actually use computers for coding and software development. Most people use it to access, produce, edit, and store information, all four of which a smartphone can do. APC being less powerful, doesn't mean it is not a PC. It's like saying people with less physical endurance, or lower cognitive abilities are not people.
  • so we can also say that a smartwatch, a smart TV and so on are also a pc for you ?    
  • pc stands for personal computer, not PC. 
  • I'm not sure being able to program on a device is the proper definition for whether that device is a PC, but with 'Linux on Galaxy' Samsung devices (S8/S8+/Note8) can be used for development.  If being able to program is the threshold, then while some smartphones may not be well suited for development tasks, there are at least some that do currently qualify as a 'PC'.
  • After looking for 'Linux on Galaxy' i do agree about this one :-) thanks for the information
  • "PC" is a term that has changed over the years. Some will say the iPad pro is not a PC, but what makes it a personal computer? A smartphone or iPad feels much more personal to people than a desktop computer ever has
  • A smartphone is a handled pc. It's a fact. "Smartphone" is the form factor and also the hardware.
    You can do 3/4 of what Laptops or Desktops can do with your smartphone. Your reply (specially your last paragraph), just exposed you as an idiot. Thank you.
  • lol really nice of you.  
  • So a smartphone IS a PC. And still Microsoft don't want to have a presence in this market? Who would believe this in 2012?
  • Actually there is an iPad app that lets you write and run C# code, not sure if you can get it on iPhone
  • And smartphones have been around longer than the iphone, and were more "pc" like that the iphone was. Need I try any more? 
  • Dude, stop screaming. 
  • LMAO!!!!! It hurts my eyes, lol.
  • I'm think Shaun is a buyer of an iPhone X and in awe of every feature that's already been out on other phones.
  • The only significant thing Apple has invented since the 80' is marketing. There were plenty smartphones with app stores in 2007. The first iPhone couldn't send MMS, there were no camera, and no appstore. Dont give them credit they don't deserve.
  • But, unlike all of those other smartphones (running Palm and Windows Mobile), Apple brought something the average person could and would want to use (instead of just techies). Also, no one had an App Store like the one Apple added (which was based on the iTunes Store). 
  • common people could and would want to use because of their solid marketing not technical advancements. Consumer electronic space is heavily driven by marketing there can't be any doubt about it. Sure their product were and are great but so are others' but their marketting is way better than others combined. 
  • Their touchscreen interface was a significant advance. You have your head in the sand like Microsoft in 2007. Apple didn't become dominate merely from marketing. People brought their products home, enjoyed them and bought more. Marketing certainly helps get that first sale, but the products have to stand on their own when you get them home.
  • "People brought their products home, enjoyed them and bought more." As per the usual, you are wrong again. People bought iPhones, they liked them. Then a fraction of those people bought iPads. The number of iPads sold out of the gate was large, and khas been dropping significantly ever since. Only once since the iPad first went on sale did Apple have a YOY quarterly growth, but Apple has mostly seen double digit declines every quarter in their iPad sales. Then there is the Watch, a few million sold. If that were a Microsoft product you would be here proclaiming it a massive failure. There was some growth in Mac computers because of the iPhone, but mostly those are in developers buying a Mac since it is the only approved way by Apple to create iOS software. Apple TV is behind in sales of the competitors. Apple has created one accessory after another, only to cancel them in a way that if it were a Microsoft product you would be claiming that Microsoft is leaving the consumer market. The iPhone is a great success, no doubt about it. But it has not spurred on a surge of secondary products as you like to claim here.
  • Wow @nohone,  Speaking of "reality distortion fields".
  • @Steve Adams, you find issue with my claim that the iPhone is a great success? It is true. Windows Phone was a much better phone, but unfortunately the iPhone is a success.
  • I am sure they both function as a phone just fine. The iPhone was a much better smartphone though. Windows phone wasn't a good smartphone at all. Even the few people that bought them didn't come back for more and sales suffered because of it. No amount of marketing will make up for a poor experience once you get the product home.
  • "Windows phone wasn't a good smartphone at all." I have a different opinion. I carry a 950xl and iPhone 6s+. My iPhone lags, you need to press the home button multiple times to get it to open, the WiFi drops out multiple times per day. My 950xl has wireless charging, which was supposedly a horrible feature that no body wanted until the iPhone X was announced, and now it is a miracle. It has retina scanning, which was a horrible tech until Apple invented face scanning and added it to the iPhone X, and the Microsoft tech can tell the difference between twins. It has a removable battery, expandable memory, and on, and on, and on. And yes, I went back for more starting with the Samsung Focus to the 950xl I carry with me today.
  • You are well in the minority. Nothing you mentioned matters if the device can't actually function as a smartphone. Windows Phone 7 was too locked down hardware wise and the app platform was terrible. They had to get it right the first time and they didn't. Everything else was too little too late. Retina scanning is still dumb. If your 950 had both, you would find the retina scanner is almost pointless. A fingerprint sensor has the phone already unlocked before you even get it in position for retina scan or face unlock. I bet Apple will have issues due to the loss of fingerprint ID on the iPhone.
  • Actually, Windows Phone/Mobile was and is a great smartphone. The issue has always been the lack of apps that people like to use. Granted, there are those that just don't like the tiles, much in the way i just don't care for the icon grid of iPhone or Android. However, all three OS platforms have their pros and cons. Slightly off topic, but my point is, my Lumia 950 XL does everything I need it to do, when it comes to a smartphone. I haven't found either iPhone or Android to be any more capable outside of apps. Im not saying that iPhone or Android devices aren't nice, but not a huge advantage in terms of just basic usage for me. I can send and read emails, use Office Mobile, surf the web, get directions, use navigation, watch videos, listen to music and a host of other things that iPhone or Android can do. The product was good. It was the lack of commitment and marketing to push through. Too much changing up, only to drop it altogether. MS lost trust, when it comes to mobile phone devices. Windows Phone 7 through 8 was good. What made it good was the fact that it didn't rely on apps to do the basic stuff. However, that also caused updates to only be released yearly. Windows 10 Mobile started out rough and had plenty of bugs. Despite the lack of apps, the OS became much more stable and fluid. Regardless of its obvious demise, it's still a great phone, even without the support. It's a shame that it had to end, but it is what it is. When it dies, i will decide which of the two I will go with. Im just not eager to pay $800 - $1000+ for a phone, even on a plan.
  • bleached - don't talk in generalities as you are showing your bias. The people that did dive into a the Windows Phone, that was late to the market, typically stayed with it while MS looked like it was supporting it. I also read plenty of positive feedback from users, It got awards for inovation and good tech journalist reviews. As a user I had no troubles with each model I owned and also prefered the experience of use I had over the time limited ownership I had of an android phone and borrowing of an iPhone. My comments are based on use of the three platforms ... can you say the same?
  • I have very limited iPhone use. I have had quite a few Android phones and a handful of Windows phones. WP was terrible. It never caught on for a reason. It was the exact opposite of what made Windows great. Just as locked down as iPhone, outdated hardware, no customization and even apps were severely feature limited. It was bad.
  • Oh,  I agree that the iPhone is a great success.   What I don’t agree with is your claim that the iPhone did not spur iPad and Mac sales.  It most certainly did.  Most people would bought the iPhone bought them again,  same with iPads,   Also,  I agree that windows phone was better,  but lack of anything in terms of support from ms and app devs killed it.  I loved my 1020,  but they tanked the OS on purpose.   So I moved.  
  • When did I ever say anything about secondary products? I will answer your questions though. You know how many iPads they sell per quarter? At least 10x all Surface devices combined and more than all Windows tablets combined (not that there are many of those). It is down a bit, but tablets are down for everyone. Not much of a point when you have a big phone. If Microsoft sold a few million bands it would be a miracle. The Apple Watch does ok supposedly. They are still making them and it is common to see people wearing them. Can't say the same for Microsoft Band. Apple is also the 5th largest computer manufacturer with Macs. I don't see any issue there. Compared to iPhone sales, it is understandable why they don't spend much time with it anymore. I am not sure what your point is. Apple certainly has some good marketing, but that only gets you so far. Products have to perform once you bring them home or else you won't buy more. Despite their marketing, not all Apple products have been successful. They have some really big hits though.
  • Microsoft knew when their product was not selling well, and stopped making them. Apple likes to tell us that they are selling metter than the competition, give us no actual numbers, claim that they are not going to give numbers so they can focus on sales (and then brag about sales when the numbers are good), and we are supposed to just believe them. Meanwhile Google, Amazon, eBay and more pulled their apps for the watch. Some random company pulls their app from the Windows store and that is proof that the platform is dying. Large companies pull their apps from the already anemic list of watch apps, and that is supposed to be a great sign of the sales of the watch? We don't know how many iPads are selling. Apple likes to muddle their sales by combining all sales into one lump. Of course, Microsoft doesn't break down the number of SP3 vs. SP4 vs. SP5 sold, the number of i3, i5, i7 devices sold, the number of 128GB vs. 1TB storage options, and the trolls like yourself make it out to be an offense towards humanity that Microsoft is hiding something. But Apple refuses to break down the sales of iPad mini vs iPad Pro and that is a number you like to throw around to supposedly "proove" that they are winning the market. The fact is that Apple having iPad YOY sales decline of 20% is not out of the normal. Declines that large have happened multiple times, and have been happening for years. Imagine that, the device that hearalded the end of the PC era has been declining much faster than the PC that they were supposed to replace. Over the past few years Apple had one quarter where Mac grew YOY, and that was when the new 2016 MacBook Pros were released. The new 2017 MacBook Pros were down from the 2016 sales. But being in 5th place with an OS marketshare that too has been declining is supposedly a sign that people rushed out an bought new Apple devices? Remember when Apple fans were proud that they got those OSX numbers up to 10% of the market? Now we see a marketshare of 4-5%. As I said, the iPhone is making a lot of money for Apple. And good for them, pulling themselves from the brink of obsurity to be a company that is doing very well. But to pretend that Apple is driving people to their other products in droves that you are pretending they are, is just you lying to yourself and the rest of us, and just continuing with your usual trolling, white-washing (or should we say "bleaching") of the truth.   "When did I ever say anything about secondary products?" Um, you wrote "People brought their products home, enjoyed them and bought more." You didn't say iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch, or anything. You made a blanket statement that people bought one Apple product, and bought more. You didn't specify that people bought one iPhone and bought more iPhone, people bought one Mac and then bought more Macs, etc. What you implied was people bought one iPhone and decided to buy other Apple products. Don't try to pin your incompetence on others, if you intended to write that people bought one iPhone and decided to buy more iPhones, then state that. Don't throw out half thought out comments and then get upset and blame others because you can't form complete throughts.
  • Apple sells over 10 million ipads each quarter. Surface probably doesn't break 1 million. Again, I never said anything about Apple products driving guaranteed success of new devices. That is a straw man. Apples successful products are successful because they give great experiences, not because of marketing.
  • Apple sells over 10 million ipads each quarter. Surface probably doesn't break 1 million." Words like that will get your articles removed from wikipedia for using weasel words. And that is wikipedia, which has an iffy standard for truth. You can't even cite facts and figures, therefore your argument is null and void. "Again, I never said anything about Apple products driving guaranteed success of new devices." You said specifically wrote "People brought their products home, enjoyed them and bought more." You wrote those words. If you cannot own up to them, don't write them. You are now trying to work yourself out of the corner you painted yourself into. You did not write "People brought their products home, enjoyed them and sometimes bought more."; you did not write People brought their iPhones, enjoyed them and bought an iPhone for their next phone." You wrote what you wrote, own it. We know that your word is less than worthless, at least own up to what you wrote and maybe you will get a modicum of credit. Otherwise you are proving more and more that you are a useless troll.
  • We definitely don't know how many Surface devices Microsoft sells, but we do know they sell around $1 billion or less per quarter. Assuming a $1000 average selling price, which makes some sense since most Surface devices are $1000+, they might be hitting 1 million per quarter. Apple is easy. They release iPad numbers. You can look them up. 10 million is low balling. They sold 13.3 million Q1 2017. People bought iPhones and continued buying iPhones. They also bought iPads and watches or whatever, although maybe not in the same numbers. That is all that means. Apple makes a ton of money selling hardware. Not everything was a hit though. That statement was correct.
  • Stopped reading this the minute you used the word troll for someone with another opinion. The equivalent of Trump with his "fake news"
  • bleached - the marketing and buying of that first smartphone my the majority of the public can not be underestimated. As recognised by journalists in many articles, once you buy into the ecosystem and invest use and money into it the average user won't even look at anything else to compare. Most iPhone users won't even know if there are improved experiences to be had with other platforms.
  • Correction. That would be ... 'the importance of the marketing and buying of that first smartphone by the majority of the public can not be overestimated'...
  • If you want to give credit for a tech company bringing something to the average person than the credit would go to Google with Android.  How many people in India or Africa can afford a Apple product?  Android was already in development when the iPhone first released so it more then likely it would have released regardless of the iPhone as Google's main target at that time was Microsoft. 
  • This is exactly what I'm getting at. 
  • No. We are not all using touchscreen keyboards for our PC's, because no one method of input or interacting with a device is perfect for everything. There is more to what makes a device suitable for a task beyond its number crunching. I can't say I am watching Westworld, but is there someone entering a substantial amount of text which would normally be best done nowadays on a PC keyboard.
  • That's where Continuum comes in.
  • Would. Samsung did more to promote Continuum-like solution than Microsoft. Even Microsoft did more to promote Samsung solution because Office apps in demos were no coincidence, also selling it in MICROSOFT stores :/ Now any Andromeda device will beat it. With just pure Windows at current stage it's nothing as a mobile device :/
  • We'll need a complete inovation in the power (battery) area to acomplish this.
  • iPhone will evolve to become the most powerful mobile PC, just wait
  • ... Iphone will be most powerful mobile pc...omg... Iphone is not a PC... the OS is not the same a Mac... its just a toy... the day you can make an app on your iphone for your iphone... then it will be a PC... but mostly an MAC... Lol...Saying that any electronic device that got a touch screen is a PC... then you might also think that apple wathc is also a PC ? which is complety nuts... I'm sorry but the iphone is just a small ipad with the ability to make a phone call... 
  • Really? On my mobile PC, I have 32GB of memory, 2TB NVMe, 1050 graphics, quad core CPU. I write machine learning software involving many GB of data, sifting, sorting, manipulating data. I then connect to a WIndows Mixed Reality headset to view the data generated, with views containing over 100 thousand polygons. And that is just my laptop, a mobile PC. My desktop contains 16 cores (2 sockets), 128GB of memory, multiple TB of NVMe for storage, 1080Ti graphics. So tell me, when will the iPhone evolve to let me do that? And will that iPhone be able to advance to keep up with my desktop when those computers advance? And why will Apple be releasing that new iMac Pro when you could get the same or better perf from $800 iPhone from a $5,000 machine? Should I feel ripped off for the price my company paid for the Mac Pro sitting next to me, when we can just get iPhones that are supposedly better?
  • Apple will do that when your use case is anything but niche.
  • Just came in to congratulate you, my respect. i think that is the future that we as humans need, to be able to process all that data to soon be able to mimic human brain with all those billion of neurons and discover what is the consciousness, what is to have a soul and all those questions we still cannot answer biologically speaking
  • Jason... so you are telling us that microsoft is making a crazy good small device that finnally can run a real os... My only problem is do you really think that people who got iphone and android will want to go to windows and use an android emulator to get the apps they got on their phones ? Shouldn't not talking about the ios guys... cause.. i dont remember any emulator for IOS... ( my bad if i'm wrong nobody's perfect but i think there is problem with license...) so why thos ios guys would move to this crazy wonderfull and not expensive device that will replace the windows phone they killed... not to mention the pocket pc.. logn time ago lol... Anyway wait and see as usually... but if they are launching a device priced like the hololens... then its going to be a big faillure... i still got my 950 and my wife the 930... but she will move to honor 9... i will probably goes to the honor 10... coz i need a 'smartphone' and i got no more choice... now... thanks to microsoft...
  • Thanks to Nadellas actions (not empty words) we are at stage where even amazing device like we all expect will be DOA exactly like now Harman Kardon Invoke is :/ Same situation was with Lumia phones under Microsoft but as Nadella admitet just weekes ago 'we should know this due to that Nokia writedown' -.-
  • Samuel.... No. Nobody expects for iDroid users to trade in thier smartphones for a PC, and nobody ever has.... This device isn't for that. It's just another PC form factor.
    That has been explained a million times over.
  • Now that you have me thinking about running emulation via MEMU on it, (if it's running full windows)...I actually would trade my iphone for the new surface...thingamajiggy.   If they are what the photos i posted are.   
  • Based on the current trajectory, that magical ‘one’ device will run android. It’s now at 70% market share, has  the key stranglehold in the emerging markets and is backed by a strategy that the others can’t beat (i.e. ‘free’ and therefore not the core revenue stream).   Unless someone comes up with a game changing proprietary device, or there is a fundamental earthquake in OS’s, then Apple will shrink back to exclusively high end and MS will continue to retrench behind the scenes.
  • Folding screens seem to be a questionable idea unless seldom in use.  I've had several problems with USB ports fragility and they don't even move.
  • Well it's sad but Microsoft is irrelevant in creating any future device standard from position where they led themselves :/ Glasses with VR/AR or voice assistants are not the way in my opinion. It might be a sidekick but never something what could replace our smartphones. It's like with cars - 4 wheels and its overall shape is just as good as it can be. You can just change ways how energy could be provided to move it, add some tech to make it drive better or even by itself but there won't be any flying cars etc. Musk explained it perfectly. Same for smartphones: this is it. You could add projectors like Lenovo did for some tablets, you could maybe add transparent screen with some Kinect-like sensors where Samsung and Apple are going while Microsoft backed out. But I don't believe that smartphones will be replaced like Nutella is suggesting with 'next paradigm shift'. That shift I hoped would be just 100% seamlessly connected devices: PC, car media system, smartphone, home systems like Xbox, voice assistant recognizing which user are you while interacting with any device etc. Ms almost had it all and for sure was on a right track. Now what, just Apple seems to be that one with fully integrated and well developed for consumer use with complete range of devices and solid strategy. Few years earlier would not believe even I as MS fan would have to admit this :/
  • My thoughts also on AR Glasses/headsets.  Keeping with looking to sci-fi as the future - you don't see headsets/glasses to any great extent.  Writers/directors/producers/actors have already worked through that social interaction between device wearing/non-device wearing people is incredibly awkward at best and usually in the end detrimental to the device equipped person. What you DO see is plenty of screens.  Small screens, medium screens, big screens, handhelds, tablets.    
  • I really don't think folks doubted the smartphone 30 years ago. It just wasn't a thought then. As for the one device theory; it will take, again, something that hasn't been thought of. No one is going to carry a 30" screen around with him. And no one who has access to a 30" screen is going to use his smartphone for spreadsheets, databases, etc. If some magical (by today's standards) device gets invented that morphs from a smartphone to a workstation, then sure. I can see that replacing everything. But if you are talking about Continuum (or whatever they want to call it) whereby your smartphone docks into a workstation, it isn't gonna happen. Cloud sync has become too easy. I am not going to mess around with cables and goofy docks when all my files and data get synced near instantaneously between my phone, tablet and workstation. I doubt anyone else will either, based on the almost nonexistant sales of such devices.
  • Besides the smartphone was a not truly a paradigm shift. I say that because if the mobile internet was wiped out today, we could still function tomorrow. We would be going backwards to the days where we have to wait until we get home or to the office to check emails and voicemails. But everything we do today, we could still do tomorrow. It would just be less convenient and take a little longer. All the smartphone really did was save time on the things we have to do, so we could waste more time on the things we don't need to do.
  • Smartphones via the internet connect to a host of intelligent cloud services that would not have developed as quickly or become as integrated our lives and intertwined with other services if not for smartphones. Billions of smartphones means massive amounts of data, billions of searches and more data for the development of AI which is increasingly integrated in platforms and platform services and aps from digital assistants, to messengers to smartphone cameras and more. This rate evolution and the integration we see would not have happened without smartphones, mobile internet and cloud.
  • We already have one device. The cloud. The hardware will change and morph, but your data will connected and increasing powered by the cloud.
  • future is in deviceless.. You buy subscription for a core, and depending on the package you get up to date tech. All you need is any screen with network access.
  • :-) a screen with network access is a device no ? :-) ok ok i see what you want to say and i agree... but its not for tomorrow... people arround the world don't all have access to fast internet... 
  • 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
  • Though that is where the Western and Asian world is going. The others will just take a little longer but will miss a lot of the intermediate steps in getting there. What you need is good enough up and down streaming of data to and from cloud processing. Even gaming and other heavily interactive applications may get to this point eventually. Though the unreliability of wireless connections will still drive local processing to sum degree I think.
  • Just like jet packs or soylent green.
  • The future of devices isn't a device. It's simply an interface to our own personal ( Not like Siri or Cortana ) AI that does what WE want it to, protects our personal secrets and privacy, cannot be accessed by corporate controllers and has the intelligence to become our major-domo. It will pre-empt our needs, has no problems being as warped or straight as we desire, and fulfills our wants based in being an extension of our own being. A symbiotic para-cyborg relationship. A co-processor into which we can offload all of our excess tasks - THIS is ultimately how humans are designed to operate, and represents the perfect interface. Devices are, in the mean time, a clunky tool that allow us to access information and nothing else, so it doesn't matter if we have one, two or three on us to assist with our needs. They are all just stepping stones on the way to a better interface to technology. Some day, Digital Native won't mean someone who can use the technology, and there will be no differentiation between data and the real world.
  • Right On Commander (David Kitson1) - this is exactly where this technology is going.  Have you read any of Peter Hamiltons books?  The integration of technology and biology as described in those books is precisely where this technological evolution will end up.
  • Apple were not the first to the market with smartphones. Ibm marketed the simon smartphone in 1994 then there was Hp in 2003, with various iterations of the ipaq combined with a phone and running microsofts windows ce.  Granted Apple took the idea and brainwashed the public into buying their little toy, but don't try to make out that it was their invention ! Also, It won't be long now until microsoft's finalises the surface phone a mobile device (probably foldable) that runs the desktop version of windows, then we'll see who are, the real leaders of technology !
  • Never heard of IBM's smartphone... Was it a good product ?
  • No... Naaa. Those were PDA's.. Not smartphones. There's a little difference.
  • Hi Johnnyretro, I hope you noticed in the article I clearly indicated that smartphones existed before the iPhone. (As a matter of fact I owned a few). Here's the excerpt from the piece where I point out smartphones preexisted the iPhone, but Apple changed everything in the way I describe here: "Bulky enterprise-focused smartphones existed in the shadow of these consumer-focused feature phones. Early mobile phones had hardware keyboards and tiny screens. Despite rudimentary internet access and basic apps, they, like the phones that preceded them, were used primarily for phone calls. Apple changed everything in 2007 when it introduced the iPhone, a slate-shaped, touch-centric, keyboard-less mobile device that's not used primarily for phone calls. Given the benefit of hindsight, history may define the advent of the iPhone as the dawn of the ubiquitous "mini-tablet" personal computer."
  • And it will grow from what is now called cell phones and tablets. And MS just blew their entry into that future.
  • 1. It will be a matter of choice 2. Apple will be the ultimate everyday communications/computing tool provider for the future - they singularity own and control an ecosystem on both software and hardware platforms. 3. Samsung and Microsoft do not have an Ecosystem and cannot provide what you are suggesting - Microsoft doesn't have a mobile platform  - Samsung doesn't have a software - Google is a competitor, a harsh one for Samsung's hardware business and we are seeing signs of software "glitches" on similar competing profile flagships from the two companies 4. Apple's current theme and focus is unification of platforms - software and hardware (they own both) and they are adding AI and AR based features via pure integration into everyday tasks such as messaging, calls, social platforms.  You need to be well researched and watch out for the signs of substance in products as different from flashes which will be abandoned (as usual) from companies like Samsung, Microsoft and Google.
  • Perhaps you missed the opening sentence of the last paragraph, after I pointed out the strengths and weaknesses Microsoft, Samsung and Google bring to the table. "No one company has all of the pieces to this puzzle, but technology has a way of getting to where it's going." This was an acknowledgement that none of the company has EVERYTHING it needs to make this happen. Excerpt from article: "Ironically, Microsoft's platform approach via Core OS, CShell, Continuum and UWP give it the best platform for a Westworld-style multi-purpose device with potential mixed reality integration for "Minority Report"-like holographic computing. But the company lacks developer support and a consumer presence. If it had been successful in mobile, even cynics would acknowledge that Microsoft would have had an unobstructed bridge to the one device for all scenarios device category. Microsoft's rivals have developers, apps, and consumers, but a less comprehensive end-to-end platform for a single device for all scenarios." Google's advantages are a broad mobile user base via Android, a growing desktop base via Chrome and strong OEM partnerships. If Android and Chrome merge, Google could showcase mobile and desktop context-sensitivity on a first-party device to inspire partners. Propped on its cloud and AI efforts, first-party services, and massive ecosystem, such a device could define the category. Samsung's potential foldable device, proven pen technology, Viv-based unbounded AI and Continuum-like tech might also make a device based on merged Android and Chrome OS a success." I clearly acknowledged MS lack of an ecosystem. Samsung as it does not would use Google's ecosystem. Regarding MS lack of mobile plateform, As noted in the and in other pieces Core OS makes the need for a mobile OS redundant. Windows would just be Windows on any device. Apple has been very vocal about not merging macOS and iOS. Of all of the big company its OS strategy is the most diverse with watchOS, tvOS, macOS and iOS. Google with Android and more so MS with UWP are better positioned for one device that fits all comtexts
  • Is UWP still a thing?, it has failed, even MS doesnt develop UWP apps for its services,
  • That is so true and I believe that the devices that people will use will not be so powerful in themselves but rather a portal if you will to everything in the cloud or some other such system. It will be a main system that is used and people will sign into it when they have something they need to do using technology to perform their work or pleasure. Just like we have phones that are hooked to the phone company service this new thing will be operated in such a way and people will have their info backed up in the main system and/or on their home device backup.
    Of course the opportunity will still be there for those who seek to steal but in time it will be stopped as we move towards that one world government that is all powerful compared to what we have today. That will not be good though as you will need permission to do whatever it is you want to do. It is coming and sooner than you think.
  • @Jason Ward   Thanks for the clarification. Unification I mentioned from Apple does NOT mean "merging" the software platforms "mobile" and "PC". What Apple is achieving is creating a virtual platform connectivity between ALL their devices and that connectivity enhances their existent seemless integration. Its not about hardware or software,you it's about future computing and communication, that's what your article focuses on and that's what I mentioned in my  response that Apple is aiming at. Samsung will never tunnel out an exclusive ecosystem within Google's Android as long as Google is in the hardware business - and it's too late for Tizen to become a "thing" Google will never exist making profit if it reverses it's official policy of selling customer data. It's what they do and who they are. And that makes them an open system, a computing "park" - people want some privacy. Microsoft is unrealistic about their corporate direction and YES, windows 10 mobile is officially dead - a decision that neglects people who spent so much on their products including the very much hyped 950XL. There also might be some truth to the news that they would abandon the Surface line. I say it's news (not rumours) because I thought it was rumours when reports came in that the lumia phones and Windows mobile would be discontinued. Apple is THE only consistently reliable and stable total communications and computing provider with a solid ecosystem. They have unification as their theme currently and with their focus on integrating AI and AR in everyday comms, I'm certain they have a direction and have the future of comms. So it's either your movie theory isn't exactly what's coming OR the future isn't a device but a connectivity across ALL devices within an Ecosystem. Apple has my vote.
  • @DTGlobal I recognize Apples Continuity and the demonstrated aptitude Apple has shown with the technology thus far but actually it's not either or, its both. And that’s what Microsoft is going after. Microsoft's cloud platform and UWP coupled with Surface brand is positioned for the creation of the type of device I describe and to offer the "connectivity tissue" via the cloud, AS the computing platform that ties that device and all of Microsoft's family of devices (and 3rd party Windows 10 devices) together. Here I wrote about that here in March of this year.
    The future of computing is an intelligent cloud that connects a family of devices:) Now Microsoft then takes that goal to connect its family of devices (and third part Windows devices) further by incorporating ALL devices (IoT, Phones etc) and platforms (iOS, Android Windows) via the Microsoft Graph, cloud and Cortana. I write about that here: If Microsoft is the platform for everything, does it really need a phone: Additionally, as a part of that broad platform strategy, the device I describe would be just one of the computing devices Microsoft supports along with the myriad other devices (phones, pcs, IoT devices etc) connected to its cloud, intelligent edge and Microsoft Graph. I go into detail how Microsoft could position such a device in relation to the intelligent edge and other assets here: Microsoft needs to leverage partnerships, eSIM and edge computing to position ultramobile PCs: Finally, I describe the intelligent edge and its affect on Microsoft's mobile strategy here: What is the intelligent edge and how does it effect Microsoft's mobile strategy? Again, I don’t think it's an either or proposition: an ultimate device as I describe OR a family of devices connected via a singular cloud platform. Microsoft is pursuing both in a way that no other company is, and at a far broader and comprehensive way than Apple is capable of.
    I'm sure as you read the pieces I shared my perspective (whether you agree with it or not) will be more clearly understood than this singular piece could express alone. Thanks for the discussion.
  • Iphone-like devices? really Jason lol... touch screen smartphones existed before the appless, featureless first generation iphone hit the market. Beyond the smartphone if person is really into sc-fi is integrated wearables but for most people that will be a bridge too far. So smartphones will be defacto the computing platform, they would just be more flexbile and versatile than before but battery tech has long way to go before that becomes a reality. Perhaps Quantum Chemistry will provide the final push in that direction.
  • I realize touch screen devices existed before the iPhone..I own some of them😉 No if you look at how I qualifies "iPhone-like" I described a slate, tablet-like form factor, without a keyboard, the display dominates the device disign and touch was the primary form of interaction. That type of device was not a dominate popular design prior to the iPhone. Thus my premise that the Apple introduced what history may later define as the age of the mini tablet, seeing that person computing shifted to these slate style devices (smartphones) after the iPhone.
  • I know you qualified it :), wasn't a personal dig at you. Generally speaking, It just reinforces the cognitive dissonance the majority have that the iphone was the first touch screen smartphone. Thus perpetuating blind subconcious fan loyalty... how else does one explain the queues up for iphone launches...  lol. The reason why I would say the iphone caught on was the simplicity when you compare the UX of other phones from that era suchas windows mobile it was mishmash of UX's - Microsoft's original UX and the OEM skin ontop of that. Not to mention the lack of a unified store meant if you moved from phone to another not from the same OEM. Your purchases didn't travel with you. Also it was a natural paradigm shift. We went from brick phones with monophonic tones, to phones with polyphonic tones, then we got coloured screens from the monochromatic screens. People who used the fancy keyboard PDAs with the calculator-esque displays wanted more functionality so we had the merge of the two which is why Blackberry was a hit in the enterprise sector for awhile. Plus users at the time were keyboard users however the keyboards weren't versatile for some people so we got tablets and full screens PDA. Then as these became more affordable you had the trickle down affect from enterprise to consumer. My point is it was natural shift of progression, Apple was in the right place and at the right time plus they built up their brand awareness with the the ipod, then ipod shuffle. By that time Microsoft was on the back foot in the consumer sector due to the lack of a unified store. During the interim we had zune and kin but they were US only and hard to buy else where... so when WP7 came out it was so consumer focused that it had no enterprise features at all. To compound matters Android was "free" whereas WM licenses was not (back then) so naturally OEM's wanted more baskets as naturally you diversify your portfolio not consolidate it (unless the fiscal situation is absolutely dire) so they picked up android and just chucked out handsets without a care. So therefore it wasn't the iphone that was the catalyst but vast array of factors that are usually not thought about or swept under the rug because it's simple or convenient or it doesn't fit a message (again generally speaking). The iphone is just more symbolic in terms of the transition of mobile computing.      
  • We can hate apple all we want, and yes, i despise the company, but there is no doubt the sheephone changed the landscape. now we just need to get rid of it, and the sheeple
  • We can hate the air all we want and live on exhaust fumes... Oh wait... That needs air too for combustion. Apple is the future! It's that simple. Microsoft knows it, that's why they throwing their weak "publicity" behind Google's Android - but it still won't change a thing.
  • Why can't they they make anything that looks like it came from the future or at least inspired by sci-fi.