iPhonomics and the post-PC era

iPhonomics and the post-PC era

Summary: My friend Steve Gillmor is known for his very occasional cryptic and sometimes prescient posts that attempt to connect the dots and unpack the logic between seemingly unrelated events.This week he focused his attention on the iPhone, which he suggests is new center of computing gravity, and iPhonomics, which has something to do with the calculus of battery life and multi-device computing, connected to Google Gears (offline access for Web apps), Apple TV and the data sources in your life.

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My friend Steve Gillmor is known for his very occasional cryptic and sometimes prescient posts that attempt to connect the dots and unpack the logic between seemingly unrelated events.

This week he focused his attention on the iPhone, which he suggests is new center of computing gravity, and iPhonomics, which has something to do with the calculus of battery life and multi-device computing, connected to Google Gears (offline access for Web apps), Apple TV and the data sources in your life.

gillmor350.jpg

In part, Steve is outlining Steve Jobs' vision and agenda for the post-PC era. During his stage appearance with Bill Gates at the D conference, Jobs said the "radical rethinking [of computing] will happen in post-PC devices," such as the iPod and its successor iPhone. Motorola, Nokia, Palm, Microsoft, RIM, HTC, Samsung and many others have the same vision. Jobs has said that the iPhone software is five years ahead of competitors, and on June 29 we see how that claim holds up.

Over the next several years, continually enhanced by Moore's Law, the smarter, memory-laden, high-bandwidth phone, Web browser, video and audio player--more consisely, the handheld mobile device or mobile companion--will become the primary computer for billions of people on the planet.

The problem with that scenario--the smartphone as primary device for voice, music, video, Web browsing, email, calendar, social networking, bluetoothing, etc--is battery life. Steve proposes a salvation scenario for battery-life challenged mobile devices:

In a world post-iPhone where everything changes, battery life becomes the arbiter of usage. iPhonomics becomes the process of reducing battery usage to acceptable fill-ups at power oases throughout the daily lifecycle of the device. Let’s say the phone gets 20% of usage during the day and evening if out and about. That leaves 30% for Web and the rest for iPod, of which 40% might be audio and 60% video.

Plane usage tips toward iPod. Here’s where Gears comes in, as Google Apps suck up most of the airtime and you can charge the iPhone while you browse offline. At home, Apple TV shifts away from iPhone video in a similar complementary fashion. Soon it’s bedtime, and tomorrow the cycle begins anew.

iphonemics.jpg In his final Google/Apple-centric coda, Steve proclaimed: "The secret of the iPhone is that [Google] Gears and Dish [Network] and Google Reader, Docs, and Gmail and AppleTV are all peripherals for the iPhone. iPhone therefore I am." Note that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on the Apple board of directors, so it's not too much of a stretch to count on tighter integration between the two companies over time. The same iPhonomic scenario could be applied, less elegantly, to a Windows-based solutions.

But no matter how you calculate the iPhonomics, you end up having to manage your usage across several different activities, so you don't end up draining the battery watching YouTube videos or listening in on endless conference calls while in transit. Having extra charged batteries doesn't help, because the iPhone, like the iPod, is welded shut.

Airports are extremely stingy about providing electrical outlets, and most airplanes don't have in-seat charging facilities. The U.S. doesn't have cell phone charging stations on every corner, like Starbucks. Actually, it's a good idea for Starbucks. With every purchase of a double latte with soy milk you get access to a charging station.

The other issue is carrying around a laptop as part of the online/offline battery life triage. It's practical for the current smartphone crowd, but not for billions of users in the future who can't afford multiple devices. Perhaps Apple will come out with an under $500 iPhone/Macbook combo, in part subsidized by a service contract. If, Apple doesn't someone else will on the non-Apple platform. Or maybe the battery breakthrough will occur sooner than later. We can only hope...

Topics: Google, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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9 comments
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  • Oh I See...

    It's not even June 29 and we have an 'economy' brewing here.

    iphonomics? Come on.

    The iPhone and anything sprouting up around it will be only a small 'niche' market compared with its competition.

    But feel free to buy into it!
    D T Schmitz
    • ... you gotta look for the vision

      For a first generation product, the iPhone is going to offer more seamless integration features than almost any existing Smartphone. And integration into daily routines (communicating, learning, entertainment) is really the crux of this commentary.

      Gilmore's point, and Jobs' for that matter, is that the iPhone sits at the center of so many of our day-to-day habits.

      Smartphones may be considered a niche in terms of the overall consumer market, but this "niche" has got disposable income and wants everything in one place.

      And this is just 1st generation hardware & software.

      I buy into the vision.
      ericlussier
  • Moore?s Law? Where is my 30GHz PC then?

    Moore?s Law is not a law. It isn't even real. The doubling of PC or microprocessor power ever 18 to 24 months hasn't happened for a long time now. Anyone care to chart reality vs what the so called law predicts?

    But, some software continues to expand in demand as if Moore's Law were real and happening.
    Weldon2
    • Well.... Theoreticallly...

      [b]Moore?s Law is not a law. It isn't even real. The doubling of PC or microprocessor power ever 18 to 24 months hasn't happened for a long time now. Anyone care to chart reality vs what the so called law predicts? [/b]

      Technically, if you double the number of cores every 18 to 24 months or so, you're technically doubling the number of transistors so if you want to pick nits... Moore's law is still alive and well.

      The problem is heat. As we've seen with the Intel Prescott chip, it's better suited to be the heating element for an Easy-Bake oven than running a spreadsheet. When you get up to around 4 GHz, you wind up needing the cooling tower from a Three Mile Island style reactor just to keep the heat in check.

      At 30 GHz, you're liable to find your CPU doing a Chernobyl style meltdown rather than doing much of anything else.

      There's also a slight issue with the size of the transistors. You can only make them just so small and pack them in just so tightly before the individual components stop behaving the way they're designed to work.
      Wolfie2K3
    • Let's clarify terms

      According to Intel's website (www.intel.com/technology/mooreslaw/):
      "In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore saw the future. His prediction, now
      popularly known as Moore's Law, states that the number of transistors on a chip
      doubles about every two years."

      The chart on that same page illustrates that Moore's Law continues to be quite
      accurate, amazingly enough.
      frabjous
  • It's the display, stupid

    I'm not going to try to do ANYTHING serious on, at best, a 4 inch screen. Thumb keyboard ain't to likely either. There's a lot of new technology needed to get to any post-pc world. Period. Battery power? Minor problem, soon fixed.
    gregry
  • External Battery Backup

    I use a device very similar to a Socket Mobile Power Pack, particularly when flying, with my LifeDrive. I imagine such devices already exist for IPOD. Mine is small and handy. I no longer run out of power on long flights or in meetings, etc... This isn't rocket science in terms of having a relatively compact backup power source. www.danmosqueda.blogspot.com
    007baf
  • Stupidity or greed?

    Why did Apple weld the iPhone shut? Piracy issues? Perhaps.
    But to not have a replaceable battery is just plain stupidity.
    Having a battery slot is one reason I changed from a Palm to a Power PC PDA and a good reason to not buy an iPhone.
    Companies such as Apple which try to limit consumer choice do not deserve to be supported with purchases of their products, even if their products are superior.
    The_Curmudgeon
    • Talk about stupidity...

      Of course the iPhone and the iPod battery are replaceable. But they aren't
      disposable batteries. The case is relatively easy to open, I don't understand why
      anyone would want to put an ugly battery door on there since the WHOLE IDEA is
      that you have to sync it anyway (so let it charge at the same time). Geez, you
      really have to spell out obvious stuff to people sometimes...

      Your watch is the same, but I bet you are whining about it in forums. The battery
      is replaceable, but you have to pry the case open. Sure, it's not as easy as your
      little aa battery door on your FM tuner, but it doesn't exactly take a genious to
      open the case. For some reason this is a problem on an iPod but not on your
      watch? Why? My iPod battery lasts a lot longer than my watch battery.

      Opening your own iPod is not difficult if you have any manual dexterity
      whatsoever.

      Does a Zune have a disposable battery replacement door? (It's got that 'sold at k-
      mart' look and feel, so it should fit right in if it does.) I wouldn't know, I have
      never seen one in actual use. They ought to put one in the smithsonian or
      something so that everyone can see one. Oh, right nevermind, there are plenty of
      unsold ones in the stores...
      comp_indiana