Computing technology has certainly come a long way. My first experience with a computer was with the original black and green Apple IIe in primary school with a 1.023MHz processor. I mean, seriously, we’re now exactly thirty years since then and mainstream computers now run at over 2GHz (more than 2,000 faster) with anything up to four physical processors per CPU. The top end devices sport computing power twice of that again. This doesn’t even count the capabilities of storage, graphics and all the other myriad things that have been added as features in the intervening years.
For many years, the personal desktop and laptop computer dominated the general utility device in our homes and sometimes when we’re out and about. Sure, we had mobile phones, but they were just that: mobile phones. You had some basic functionality on them and that was pretty much it. The top end smartphones were slow and clunky, though that was probably more to do with hardware limitations. And the stupid size of the Start button.
Even though Microsoft tried to define the smaller tablet form factor during the Windows XP era, that also largely failed due to software limitations. It wasn’t until Apple managed to properly build an intuitive and easy to learn interface for phones and tablets that you could start to imagine what a truly convergent device could look like.
In truth, iOS is never going to replace the far more powerful OSX line of operating systems in the near future. They were envisioned differently and behave differently, though they do share some similar interface elements. Apple doesn’t seem to think convergence is possible right now and certainly, neither do I. For that to occur, many hurdles have to be overcome on the hardware side, most importantly the balance between power usage and raw computing power.
In truth, the first to achieve something close to the vision of a truly convergent, multipurpose and functional device could well be Microsoft. With Windows 8, RT and Windows Phone all now sharing common software components, they are beginning to merge their development with the Windows Blue project and the acquisition of Nokia. Does this mean that we could see a Lumia device the size of a 1020 capable of running the latest and greatest Battlefield or Crysis in the near future? It might not be as ludicrous as it sounds!