Contest #3: The Next Big Thing 2

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The iEverything
By Fredric Paul

In five years, cell phones will be history.

So will PDAs, of course. And laptops, too. iPods and other MP3 players will be silent. Digital cameras? Only in the picture for professional photographers. GPS devices will be totally lost. GameBoys and other portable entertainment devices won't be having any fun either.

Don't worry, though. I'm not saying you won't be able to talk to your friends and colleagues, work on documents, listen to music, snap pictures, find out where you are, or entertain yourself while waiting for the subway.

Many mobile devices share bits and pieces of the same technology — there's simply no reason not to put them all in the same device.

I'm just saying that you won't have to carry a pile of separate, dedicated devices to do it. Turns out that many of those functions share bits and pieces of pretty much the same technology — there's simply no reason not to put them all in the same device.

Fortunately, in five years, we won't have to. Instead, there will be a new class of all-in-one portable devices — I call them iEverythings — that will meld vastly improved versions of all these functions into a single device about the size of today's smartphones.

Here's a sample set of specs and functions:

  • 200 GB hard drive
  • Global GPS
  • 5 megapixel, 3x optical zoom digital camera
  • Built-in 2 x 3-inch full-color screen
  • Projector to display a full 1024 x 768 screen on any white surface
  • Built-in QWERTY thumb keyboard
  • Laser-projected virtual keyboard for full-size touch-typing on any flat surface
  • Tri-band cellular voice and data
  • High-speed Wi-Fi
  • WiMAX
  • Bluetooth
  • The ability to seamlessly use whatever network is cheapest and fastest at any given moment (a.k.a. least-cost routing)
  • Short Message Service, e-mail, and instant-messaging capability, on a choice of networks
  • Satellite radio reception
  • Full video playback
  • Stereo speakers and headphone jack
  • Ability to run regular PC and PalmOS games, as well as proprietary games (early versions of this are already out there)
  • A new high-capacity, small-size portable storage media to hold large amounts of pre-recorded content, including games and movies
  • Voice activation for all commonly used functions
  • Simple synchronization to other computers
  • Versions available to run various operating systems, including Windows, PalmOS, Linux, etc.
  • 24-hour constant-use battery life, 1-week standby time
  • Cost: Who cares? People would pay just about anything for all this
OK, so maybe we won't have all of these features in place by 2010. Some of them might still have to come in add-ons — like flexible screens or fabric keyboards, for example — for when you really need them. But vendors are already selling devices that combine several of these functions into one device. And I'm willing to bet that trend continues to include most of functions described above, plus plenty of other stuff that we haven't even thought of yet.

I'm already saving my money — not to mention space in my pocket.

Fredric Paul is Editor in Chief of TechWeb.

Got the idea? Submit your Next Big Thing entry now!

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing