We are now at an age when, thanks to the growth of the smartphone as a point of contact for the elderly and society at large, there’s an increasing number of people who have never even owned a laptop, desktop computer or television. If you know anyone who isn’t quite “good” with technology (because they are too young to have ever been exposed to these devices and the online world) and they want to upgrade their PC, they will be able to do so using an old mobile device—like an iPod Touch or iPhone—that was on a family plan for their first computer.
You see, before the first mainstream smartphone hit the market (in 2007), mobile devices were typically powerful devices that had a lot of limitations: People didn’t need them for checking in on the office; they didn’t run current software; they only had a limited input capability; they required a specific use case to be useful. iPhones didn’t even have a camera, and that was their first and best selling feature. But as smartphones gained specs like bigger screens, better cameras, 4G connectivity and millions of dollars in patents, the gap between many of these devices and their desktop and laptop counterparts became rather big.
While the first phone to hit the market – the GSM/GPRS device offered by Nokia and produced by the mobile phone manufacturers in Europe – was a huge step, when Microsoft launched Windows Mobile on its Home Edition smartphone (in 2003), it blew the house down. Everyone immediately knew that smartphones and cellphones were the future of mobile devices – and there was no way to get over that. Because when a product gives you one thing (like being able to directly call your grandmother who lives in Paraguay via the internet), it is very difficult to think about things that are merely secondary to that product.
Over the years, smartphones and mobile devices in general have become more powerful, leading to a shorter shelf life than previous devices. Because of this, iPhone, iPad and many of the other top selling phones tend to get upgraded to larger, better and more powerful screens. And because Apple keeps supporting its phones and iPad in various iterations for most of their lifetime, users who previously owned an iPad or iPhone will now be able to upgrade to a more powerful device.
The only caveat is that some people are always going to need a laptop because of their specific usage needs. If that’s you, then if you don’t mind getting a newer laptop, you can upgrade your old one to run current and more modern software.
There is also a possibility that you may not have the time to keep upgrading. Because of the ways that we consume media and interact with brands that don’t really exist in the world before smartphones, in twenty years we won’t be able to keep computers around.
And while there will be some part of society that still needs devices, the “technology” that will serve as their main screen will be much larger and more robust than ever before. And unlike people in the early 2000s, who needed to upgrade a PC to find something to do with it, such as using an external monitor to watch a DVD or run a word processor, we’ll be able to watch videos, play games and search for products with our phones. If you’re using a smartphone or iPad, then it will have the biggest screen, and when you want to connect it to a monitor, you don’t have to buy an external monitor. It already does that for you.
And don’t forget: mobile devices are the future of mobile consumption. By some accounts, 60-70% of all the video consumption in the world (and especially in the US) is happening on mobile devices. Tablets will lead the way in this.