What’s an extremely common thing today that will be obsolete in 25 years?


Bill Blais

Smart phones. In another twenty-five years, smart phones will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Right now, smart phones are great because they connect us to the world. But we use them mainly because the connections they use are not yet ubiquitous. For example, consider the desktop computer, which, twenty or so years ago, had all of its software resident on the computer itself. But now desktop software (and with it, the desktop itself) has been largely replaced with cloud software. Anybody with Google can create documents, slide shows, spreadsheets, &c; and they can do it anywhere there is a wifi connection. In a similar way, so it will be with smart phones.

Right now, we need the personal device because the connection and app infrastructure is not universal. But eventually that will happen, and then people will be able to access everything from anywhere. For example, today we take our tablets to the coffee shop and work while we sip. But in twenty-five years, we simply take ourselves to the coffee shop (yes, if smart phones can be obsolete, so can coffee shops, but that’s for another topic), and while we sip, we use a virtual connection that puts material in the air in front of us. Finish your coffee, walk over to the bus stop, and continue your virtual connection while you wait for the (hydrogen cell, self-driven) bus.

So that’s what I think will happen. As connections and software become more robust and universal, our reliance on a piece of personal hardware will fade. Good-bye smart phones.