The Future of Home Computing
Technology trends emerge from the combination of technological innovation and consumers demand. They incite each other—a faster processor is invented, and then the software that can take advantage of the speed is developed. Likewise, consumers want a computer that can play movies on their television and then the media center PC appears.
So what is next in home computing? Here are a few ideas:
Consumer Demand: Consumers want a computer that can store their digital photos, home movies, software and their entire DVD collection.
Technological Trend: The media center server was developed to satisfy this need with a memory capacity that has moved beyond the GB to the Terabyte level. The home computer’s memory demands will continue to increase. These demands may be fulfilled with a standard disc drive, multiple drives, a hybrid flash drive or something that hasn’t been developed yet. Alternatively, home users may request virtual storage over the Internet that they can access from anywhere.
Consumer Demand: Speed and the ability to multi–task.
Technological Trend: After the acceptance of Vista takes place in the general public, RAM of over 2GB will become common place. Programs that run on 64–bit processors are already appearing and the increase in virtual memory access and dual drives with multiple threads is coming into demand, even in laptops. All of these elements put together result in faster processing and the ability to run multiple programs easily.
Consumer Demand: The ability to access and download online content quickly.
Technological Trend: Large Internet providers, like Comcast, are already trying to figure out how to charge consumers for increased bandwidth. When this happens and the ability to download large data sets occurs, more people will be purchasing downloadable movies, television shows and software.
Consumer Demand: Portable media, computing and access to the Internet.
Technological Trend: Devices like the Wolverine MVP have become available with 120GB hard drives in a 10oz package as well as media center laptops and wireless hotspots. In the future, one scenario might be a device about the size of an mp3 player with a 2–3 inch screen that can perform all computing functions, access the Internet from anywhere and will play media. A second scenario might be a tablet type PC with an interactive screen that does not require a keyboard or mouse and performs all computing and entertainment functions.
Consumer Demand: Consumers want a computer connected to their entertainment center, a desktop PC for general use and a laptop for portability. Although, they want a computer to play DVDs or downloaded content, they may also want to watch a movie while their child does homework on another computer. This requires simple networking.
Technological Trend: More home networking abilities, especially wireless. Perhaps even home servers will emerge in the near future.
Consumer Demand All–inclusive software that never goes out of date. For example, people do not want to have to use one program to import an image from their camera, a second to edit the image, another to build a greeting card, a fourth program to translate their verse to Italian for their grandmother in Tuscany and a fifth to send the electronic greeting card. They would much rather use one program that does it all, doesn’t go out of date and they would like to be able to use it no matter which computer they are using.
Technological Trend: Subscription–based software accessible online. So you could visit a software site, pay for a year’s use of the program with all updates and drivers included and then when the year is up, you could subscribe again. The software would never go out of date, you could access it from anywhere and you would never have to purchase and install a boxed version. The second aspect will be software that does more things. Developers will design products planning for all desirable uses.
Consumer Demand: Consumers want to watch what they want, when they want and where they want. They want Internet entertainment mixed with their traditional forms of amusement.
Technological Trends: Products like TiVo are bridging the gap between traditional television and the on–demand, interactive television of the future. Media Center PCs will continue to be in more demand as well as Internet access to downloadable television shows and movies. You will also see more people using their portable devices like the iPod Video for watching their favorite shows. There may come a point in time when all networks will broadcast over the Internet.
Some trends that would be nice to see:
Better Educational Software: Most educational programs do not meet the demands of game loving, young consumers. The technology is currently available to create dynamic educational programs but apparently, the consumer demand has not yet caused its development.
Free Internet Access Everywhere: Just as over–the–air television and radio is free to consumers, there may come a day when the Internet is free to access as well. Of course, that will mean more ads and commercials, but no monthly bill.
Affordable Computers for Everyone: Since it has become necessary for most kids and working adults to be computer savvy, affordable computers for everyone would be a nice thing to see.
Although, the future is not yet cast in stone, current trends in technology and consumer expectation seem to deduce that we will see some major changes in how we access entertainment and information in the very near future.
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