My much-anticipated Droid Incredible arrived late yesterday, leaving me to charge it and make it through an evening of kids and chickens before I could have a serious geek-fest with it last night. When I did finally fire it up though and started installing Apps it became clear that a little device could really change the way I work.
I say "change the way I work again" because I went through a similar transition when I got my BlackBerry Curve a couple years ago. I'm not a road warrior, nor am I one of ZDNet's mobile gurus, so I'm not immersed in the mobile revolution I keep hearing about. I see plenty of evidence in terms of corporate strategy and development efforts and don't have much trouble reading the tea leaves. However, to actually feel the paradigm shift in your hands is a whole different ball game.
I know, lots of other people have already felt it shift with their iPhones and the Droid Incredible is hardly the first Android handset on the market. However, the Incredible is my phone of choice now that the Nexus One won't be coming to Verizon.
So how's it going to change the way I work? My BlackBerry untethered me from the office and, to some extent, a computer. The Incredible takes this several steps further, converging a huge amount of functionality into a single, slim, light device. The available browsers (I'm using Skyfire at the moment) mean that I'm far less dependent on a netbook or other computer for serious web access and the social integration features practically beg me to better maintain and cultivate professional relationships anytime, anywhere.
Yes, this means that I've moved to a whole new level of hyperconnected that I simply couldn't achieve with the BlackBerry that was designed from the get-go as a corporate messaging phone (a function that it performed admirably, if without much sex appeal). But it also means that wherever I am I can be building relationships and creating business which is increasingly important as I spend more and more of my time consulting, writing, and creating content.
Speaking of creating content, when was the last time you streamed a broadcast from your BlackBerry to Ustream or uploaded high-quality video directly to YouTube? The Incredible, both with its fast processor, solid camera, and easy integration of Apps from YouTube and Ustream (among others) begs you to create multimedia content on the go. Sending emails and tweets is one thing. Being able to create content anytime with powerful apps and hardware is something else entirely.
One of my New Year's resolutions was to include more video content in my blogs and websites. Now I have a phone with more ability to do that easily than any computer I've ever owned. Guess who's going to become a bit more active on YouTube now? Of course, I'll have to resist the temptation to upload too many stupid cat videos, but I think you get the point.
While none of what I'm saying here is particularly new (and by new I mean post-iPhone), not only is it new to me, but it's somewhat new to the mainstream. Android 2.1 on my phone has an incredible amount of geek appeal, but it's utterly simple for non-technical users to manage applications and make their phones do precisely what they want them to. The hardest part of adding applications is wading through the thousands of available apps (check out Androinica for reviews and suggestions of applications).
While the phone will no doubt become a vital business tool as well as trusted recreational friend for me, the more important aspect of the Droid (and the iPhone for that matter) may be the change it signals in personal computing. More than a couple execs at Google have claimed that the desktop will be dead in 3 years. After even 1 day with my new phone that represents the current state of the art in handsets, I utterly agree with them. Three years is a long time in computer-land; while computers with serious horsepower aren't going anywhere for specialized markets, one has to ask why anyone would bother carrying around even a 4 pound notebook when a 1 pound tablet (or a couple ounce phone) filled with useful applications and portals to the cloud will let them work and play faster, better, and more flexibly.