SAN JOSE, Calif. – Just before going on vacation, I got an upgrade from my old corporate flip phone to a Blackberry Curve. I am now among the mobile elite happily bearing a smartphone and wondering where this all leads.
I soon found the addictive power of mobile email on the Crackberry.
I woke up at 5:30am on Monday writing in my head what seemed like a very timely response to an email thread I read before heading out for a week at Yosemite National Park. This sort of thing is not uncommon for me. But what was unusual is that I could stick a hand out of my sleeping bag, grab the Curve and from camping site G-10 at Tuolumne Meadows actually send the darn thing. Amazing!
The flood of a week's emails was so much easier to navigate on my notebook after I had read and highlighted the key messages from my Blackberry. And I felt a tingle of delight creating the first mobile posts to my Facebook page from Tioga Lake.
The handset's Web experience, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Part of the fault for a bad Web experience lies with slow loading pages over my AT&T service. Another part rests with the small screen of the Curve that adds extra delays trying to zoom in and out of pieces of 640x480 Web pages.
Still, this is likely to be the first handset I actually use to access parts of the genuine Net beyond those horrible carrier walled gardens were I used to wander, lost and angry. The point is, this stuff is getting real fast.
Indeed, a new report by ABI Research projects in 2015 more than 60 percent of the installed base of mobile handsets worldwide will contain mobile web browsers. That's about 3.8 billion handsets, twice the number that are Web-ready today.
ABI even breaks it down by phones will full browsers that usually require 64 Mbytes memory and those like the Opera Mini that cache data on a network server and need as little as flour Mbytes. As memory and processor prices fall, the full browser category will expand, becoming dominant in 2012, ABI forecasts.
Jeff Hawkins, the head product dude at Palm long before its acquisition by HP, told me once that all phones someday will be smartphones. "If you understand the dynamics of Moore's Law, you can see this will happen," he said just after the debut of the original iPhone.
My gut tells me this is coming fast. When I get a new techno-toy it's a sure sign we are well on our way to mainstream adoption, and what then?
Maybe this is just another step in the trend toward the old Bill Gates vision of "information at your fingertips," but it feels like something more. Driving back from Yosemite I heard on "All Things Considered" an interview with Mike McCue, chief executive of startup Flipboard which is designing a social networking magazine, initially as an app for the iPad.
McCue said if you combine the iPad and iPhone with Facebook and Twitter you get "a primordial mix that will drive economy to the next level."
I think he's right. Keep stirring.