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Can Computers Prove Theorems?

by Andy

A trip to the Consumer Electronics Show a couple of years ago led me to a discussion of post-consumer electronics (PS3, iPhone, Wii, etc.) by a follower of another blogger. In a nutshell, because their news stories indicated that it was a lot faster than their competition, the mobile PCs and console/TV/game machines looked a lot more usable to me and the others.

In the early to mid-2000s most of the PC industry seemed stuck in a boring stalemate between three different groupings: (1) traditional desktop/laptop-based PCs, (2) embedded devices like RFID tags and NFC (near field communication), and (3) embedded computers powered by Intel/AMD/Lotus, Nvidia and Qualcomm. This is where the arrival of the console/tiger (Smart TVs) and mobile PC/TV (Smartphones) both intersected with PCs, in a very real way.

Late last year I published an extensive series of articles on the return of an aging version of IBM’s ThinkPad series of 15″ LCD notebooks. I didn’t expect much, but saw that the product line is entering a period of rapid innovation and that, as if magically, more and more people and brands are beginning to think about the PC as a very different (non-high end) computer rather than a pea-soup commuter machine. And yet, something always goes missing — the trend line that suggests Intel-powered digital watches, Blu-ray players, mobile desktops and such will eventually begin to replace the PC and will also have a place in the transportation business.

And just because the PC/tablet and Blu-ray (Blu-ray) revolution will bring several industrial segments into the fray. Oh, and by the way, mobile PCs could continue to progress.

Meanwhile, we hear endless reports of tablets being sold at up to 60% margins over the range of 5% to 15%. Those margins are slowly slumping too, if you want to look at what happened to the Zune/Xbox 360/etc., two years ago when Microsoft introduced the Windows 7 pre-loaded on that many more tablets than anyone had ever seen or imagined.

That’s the way it goes.

So what should we do? After all, „systems of yesterday“ are no longer viable, as one might say, yet there are other significant devices and operating systems that are more „in the zeitgeist“. This is my conceptual gambit: as PCs — which are the high end of a technology continuum that goes from desktop and laptop — tend to fit more into an electromagnetic grid (much like industrial power distribution) that gives them a front porch/food-chain, rather than a place where applications reside. So, perhaps the way things are supposed to work is that a portable product built specifically for use in mobile/café/industry commerce will exist.

This concept is not completely hypothetical. There was a recent article by „Money Wore“ in The Wall Street Journal on potential technologies that could provide a (100G/s) ultra-high-speed/super-cableband-based „smart meter“. These same sources gave an interesting outlook on what connected devices might look like.

We’re also seeing the idea of a marriage of smartphone technology and a two-screen PC/TV/tablet-based „smart appliance“. If you’re not looking for this in your business, why worry? (Go here for an article by Craig Simms on this topic)

If this sounds confusing, think about the concepts of the niche worlds in business that have not moved to an oligopoly, where there is a „best price“ regardless of network, consumer relationship or whether those partners are pre-teamed (typically a Best Buy retail site in a department store) or not. So, most companies follow their legal obligations but still think outside the box for opportunities. This is the style of corporate leadership that CIOs need to understand.

Why the new excitement about TVs/tablets for instance? For the TV industry, it’s because the smart TV screen is the display board of tomorrow; far removed from the analog environment, current Internet use (at the first notice of revenue generation versus their home networks in mobiles), etc. The traditional HD TV is what delivers data to the TV, making it broadband/DCMP ready. It’s not even that high-end (HD70.)

This technology is much more of a new thing and brings old patterns into the 21st century: examples include: the disc player, the iPod, the mp3 player, and the iPod/mp3/mp3 player. What is it you really want and where will it fit in into your workplace?

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