We’re closer than you might think.
Long bet: The iPhone 9 will be your only computer.
— Justin Blanton (@jblanton) January 8, 2011
I said the above in 2011, and at the time it seemed like kind of a long shot, but possible. Now though, I think I have to admit that I was not aggressive enough with my estimate. Indeed, I know a number of people who today use their iPhones almost to the exclusion of all other machines (and have for a good while now).
These yahoos rarely update their Macs’ (or whatever’s) software or hardware, or even backup their phones. They just can’t be bothered, and I know that many of them have no intention of ever buying another “big” computer. Some of these folks have their most precious and important photos only on their phones – they don’t even push them to the cloud. Do I think all of this is batshit insane? Of course, but that’s just how a lot of people are living these days…on the edge, willfully ignorant.
To be totally honest, my quote above was thinking more about the iPhone 9 being something you docked into a “dumb” display for most of the day (e.g., while at work). It’s now clear that while that may happen soon (certainly the processing power has been there for a while, and other companies have built this sort of thing many times over), there is no doubt that the majority of people’s time is spent on the small screen, not the large one – the TV and the big computer are now “second screens”. That’s not going to change any time soon. In fact, the disparity is only going to get greater. Most of our entertainment and communication is sourced, if not experienced, via our phones, and it won’t be big computers that come back from the dead to change that (though it will be something).
Another factor at play here is work. If you can work from your phone, you probably will optimize for that, because it’s the most convenient option – you always have it with you. It’s that simple. A good chunk of my job is just thinking constantly about what’s around the corner and where the world is going to be in 5–10 years. With that in mind, nearly all of my professional (and personal) consumption can be done enjoyably from my iPhone or iPad; and almost all of my professional output is channeled through either email or Messenger, also easily handled by my iOS devices. I realize I’m in kind of a unique position in this regard, but I think it’s becoming more common, especially folks being able to get away with working on tablets, if not their phones alone.
Let’s bump the estimate up by one generation: iPhone 8 is when it all goes down. I’m excited.