The Future of Technology Is Consolidation

It’s no secret that I love technology. Technology surrounds me every minute of my life, and I spend a great deal of time interacting with it in a variety of contexts, whether that be working on my computer, browsing Reddit and the like on my tablet, or playing games on my console (and yes, I’m intentionally leaving out brand names because this article isn’t about any loyalties or rivalries).

Five years ago, smartphones (if you’d call them that) weren’t really common, and tablets as a popular consumer device were a thing of the future. Think about it: in just those few short years, we’ve gained two significant additions to our technological lives. Many other technology-related industries have also seen significant progress during the period, including TV offerings from Apple and Google.

This is great… except the devices are all separate. I’m looking forward to a future where I just have one core device and a range of different form factors.

Our lives contain technology in so many different form factors now.

Around me now, I have four main devices: the computer I’m typing on, a phone, a tablet and a games console. As our pool of devices has expanded, so has our need for keeping everything in sync. We want access to our content from everywhere, so that movie we buy can be watched alone on our tablet, or on our TV via a games console. And the major companies have been working to make this a reality through services like iCloud, where content and data is accessible from anywhere and everywhere it’s supported.

But all these syncing services do is try and emulate a single system. Wouldn’t it be cool if we actually had just one device that stored everything, without the need to spend time, effort or money syncing it with others?

Several companies have attempted to market what is essentially a notebook shell that’s powered by the internals of your smartphone. Back in 2011, Motorola attempted to do this with the Atrix, by allowing the phone to power a notebook shell with a desktop-style interface. The display, the trackpad and the keyboard all interact with the phone, just scaling up when required.

Since I spend a lot of my time browsing and writing, I could achieve everything I do on my phone, but its small form factor prohibits making that an enjoyable experience. These notebook shells bring the phone to a more traditional form factor, and at that size I could be productive, while never having to worry about the content needing to sync to my phone later on.

The Clambook.

The Clambook caught my attention recently. If you hook up an Ice Cream Sandwich to it, you essentially get the tablet version of ICS on the notebook’s screen, but one that’s manipulated through the trackpad. Sure, Ice Cream Sandwich probably doesn’t have all the features of Mac OS X or Windows (although you would have access to a few desktop-level apps like Firefox), but it has everything I would need – and, again, it’s on a device that isn’t independent, but oriented around a device you already carry with you everywhere.

Imagine having your entire technological life with you wherever you go. Just hook your phone up to a Clambook and you have access to all your work, files and everything.

There’s obviously people for whom this wouldn’t be suitable. But, at least personally, I just love the idea of being able to do everything on one device, just docked into a number of form factors. Imagine sitting, working on your phone via the proxy of a Clambook while it streams TV shows or movies to your TV set over the air.

Ecosystems are becoming stronger, and Google, Microsoft and Apple’s efforts to tighten theirs up clearly indicate this. While these products haven’t been successful in the past, hopefully we’ll soon be in a position to live our lives on a single device.