Wozniak: The Mobile Device Is Becoming Human

Evolutions in tablet and smartphones have made the devices “more human” than ever before – and that pattern will accelerate into the future, according to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

But speaking to a packed crowd of hundreds at iiNet’s ‘Woz Live’ seminar in Sydney, Wozniak also warned that the exponential adoption linked to evolution in mobile devices can leave dominant manufacturers abruptly out in the cold – and even explored potential risks for Apple itself.

Woziak said that innovations in device design, like the ‘natural’ use of touchscreen technology and motion sensors, were breaking past artificial input methods like mice and keyboards. “You think about the iPad, especially; when you grab something on a table, you move it from left to right with your hand. You don’t operate a remote control called a mouse,” he said. “We’re getting more and more like real life; mixing the virtual world and the real world.”

“The [iPhone] had a microphone built in, so you could talk on the phone. Nobody envisioned in those early days, even at Apple, that there were people out there who’d write programs that, once we allowed them to write apps for the iPhone, could let you hold it up and listen to the song, identify the song, and let you push a button to buy it on iTunes!” he continued. “And of course, the microphone can be used for other things, like security… and [similarly], a camera can take pictures and movies [but can also] monitor for security. Someday, I want the camera and the microphone to be listening everywhere I go in life! As I’m talking to the people at the tables here, I want these cameras and microphones to, when we’re talking about a certain phrase – maybe Ayers Rock – to pop in some data: ‘Do you want to know how high Ayers Rock is?’ It’s like a human that wants to be a friend.”

“We’re on the path for a lot of this equipment to be like real humans. It’s got touch, it’s got hearing, it’s got eyes, it’s got motion sensing. It knows from GPS where it is in the world – do any of us know that? When I wake up, I don’t always know!” he said. “It’s getting closer and closer to being a human. And we’re going to get there someday.”

Competitive Volatility

Linked to this evolution, though, Wozniak noted that the mobile device market had seen exponential adoption of different technologies that had dealt sudden and severe blows to established manufacturers. “[The iPhone had] ways to edit, to magnify the screen; all of these concepts, which were so beautiful, to make something work that was so different than anything else before,” he said.

“But Nokia said ‘oh my gosh, we have 95% of the world’s phones, or 80% of the world’s phones, and we’re not going to worry; our sales aren’t gonna change’.”

“And they don’t change, and they don’t change, and they don’t change – and then all of a sudden, they change a lot. And that’s the nature of exponential growth. The sales of the iPhone, and the adoption of the iPhone and current smartphones was exponential – you don’t see the change until you’re right there,” he continued.

“And now Nokia is retrenching, trying to head off in another direction. Look at Research in Motion; they sort of had all these safe, big sales, and for years the iPhone wasn’t going to interrupt them. But they should have started some new research, right then, to be ready for when the day came.”

As for Apple itself, Wozniak said the firm was in a “very good stance to grow from” but warned that it the firm would have to protect its brand carefully. “The value of Apple is more the brand than anything else… the name Apple, the expectation of excellence. The worst thing that could happen would be if Apple put out products that when you look at them subjected [made you say]… ‘this is not Apple quality…Apple is losing that shine’,” he said. “That would be the real danger… it sort of happened to Sony.” – CommsDay.

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