What does mobile computing, that online all the time phenom of the future, look like, and how soon will we have ubiquitous mobile search? Apple Chairman Steve Jobs offered some serious clues in his keynote address here in San Francisco at MacWorld this morning.
Everybody seems to agree that the future of mobile computing will look something like the iPhone. I posited here that something as functional as the iPhone would be ubiquitous in 4-5 years. Greg Sterling has frequently noted the iPhone as the direction the industry needs to take for increased adoption, Google has often mentioned its success with the iPhone, and the NY Times reported the Christmas surge that the iPhone and its browser brought.
Jobs highlighted a number of announcements that affect the future of mobile computing, and an iPhone upgrade was but one of them. According to Jobs “…we have sold 4 million iPhones to date,” a leading 19% of the smartphone market. He demonstrated the many updates to the iPhone, including Google’s new software.
The iPhone is not Apple’s only foray into mobile computing. The Apple iPod Touch has become one of its big sellers. The iPod touch is being upgraded to include a number of mobile internet apps, including “Mail, maps, stocks, notes, and weather!” and the ability to determine location by using nearby WiFi network signals.
The new Macbook Air provides a full functioning computer as a mobile device. “So thin it fits inside a yellow manila envelope!,” but with built-in iSight, full-size keyboard, and a full-size 13.3″ wide screen display. It ships with Core 2 Duo, 1.6 and 1.8GHz options, ships with 80GB standard, optional 64GB solid state disk “a little pricey but fast!” With 5 hours of battery life, it should be a mobile beast even if it is $3100 with SSD hard drive.
While nobody really knows what the future hardware for mobile computing will look like, Apple seems to be taking us there faster than anybody, and they are hedging their bets in both form factor and function with a multi-prong approach to the mobile internet: the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the new Macbook Air.
Whether Apple products will ultimately dominate the various forms of mobile computing or whether they will just define them is to be seen. They are, however, moving on multiple fronts toward the future where local search is in your pocket or briefcase 24/7. Thanks to ArsTechnica and Engadget for their real time reporting—more coverage on Techmeme.
Mike Blumenthal is a student of life, political economy and local search. He writes the blog Understanding Google Maps and Yahoo Local Search and is a partner in a small web design company in upstate NY.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.