This was written very quickly.
At the beginning of my blogging career, in 1994, I expressed doubt that PDAs would become general-purpose computers.
Randy Battat, then an exec at Motorola, rebutted that people used to say that about personal computers, and that I would come around. I never did, and I was more or less proven right. We’re still struggling with mobile devices, trying to figure out what they’re good at. One thing they are not, is being a general-purpose computer. The reason is simple. No keyboard. No way around that. Without a keyboard, they are good for reading and relatively short messages. They work well for text messaging and Twitter. I marvel at how some people can write full blog posts and emails with their tablets and phones. But I think that will continue to be something that only some people can do. I’m an excellent typist, but I have to use two index fingers on a virtual keyboard. There isn’t room for both my hands.
- Other people opined about PDAs and I ran a roundup piece.
Now to Google glasses. I want to put my stake in the ground. (And I know the product is called Google Glass, but I think they’re glasses, so I’m inclined to describe the product my way, without using their brand name (and hence the lowercase G.))
I think they will make an excellent display device for the obvious reason that they’re mounted in front of your eyes, the organ we use for vision. The idea of moving your fingers to the side of your head, of winking to take a picture, well I don’t like that so much. I admit I might be a luddite here, and am going to keep my eyes and ears open for indications that I’m wrong. It happens, quite a bit when it comes to brand-new tech.
I think they could be a great part of a mobile computing platform. With more computing power and UI in my pocket, in the form of my smart phone, or in a big pocket, in the form of a tablet. They communicate over Bluetooth, and together form a more useful reading and communication device, but probably still not a very good writing tool. The idea that I would use glasses without tethering them to something more capable for finger-work, well that’s what I thought was wrong with the PDA idea in 1994. It turns out, in 2013, for some people — that the PDA of today can be used without tethering. But it doesn’t have the same utility as the desktop computer I’m typing this blog post on. IMHO of course.