I don't mean to sound dramatic, but it's actually quite true. Life with a tablet pc really is different from life with a lumbering desktop, or a heavy laptop that keeps overheating (or running out of battery time?) or even your everyday smartphone, with the micro-sized screen and the teenie meenie keys which can be so hard to press sometimes.
It's true that the galaxy tab is a great product; I've never been quite as happy with any purchase in my life. I would even imagine that there's some prestige to owning a tablet pc, because they're new, they're trendy and only so many people have them (about 10 million or so?).
But that's not what makes it I 'life-changing'. In fact, its not even the galaxy tab.
It's the new cyberspace that these devices are giving birth to. And its a revolution in progress.
Why do I think so? Well, consider the way you use a tablet pc, or a smart phone for that matter. The first thing I saw when I turned on my device was a bunch of icons representing 'apps'. At first there was nothing special about them. They were just like your usual icons in windows. You press one and it takes you to YouTube. Another lets you access Facebook. Even your mailbox requires an app to access.
I fell so in love with the absolute simplicity and convenience of using apps that I just forgot to use my laptop. I didn't turn my pc on for a week (except to download content for my new tab ;) ). In fact, I stopped using the internet completely, even at work. It was just so much easier to use an app.
And then it hit me.
The app had officially become the gateway for me to access the internet. I could download as many as I wanted for free, but at a price - some apps asked for access to my phone records and location whereas others could change the contents of my phone's memory.
This apparent trade-off between free-content and information on the user is interesting, but not altogether unfamiliar. Websites depend upon this information to generate advertising revenues. To a considerable extent, Google and Facebook's business models capitalize on user-base information.
But so do government's, for taxation of course. In fact, when the French revolution took place, people fundamentally made a trade-off by gaining civil liberties in exchange for the consent to be governed, and taxed. Of course, to put this into practice, the state needed to know who each and every citizen was.
Maybe I'm taking a big leap here in making this parallel. But maybe not. Maybe tomorrow, some trans-national corporation with revenues exceeding the entire GDP's of countries will determine how we interact in cyberspace by holding the keys to the doors, the very apps we have come to love.
Here's what's interesting about an app. It is digitally signed, which means that you know who the developer is and that it can't be modified. It is designed for a specific OS, which in my case is Android, and which also incidentally determines how much you can do with it. It is content-rich but also content-specific, in that you can only use a Facebook app to access Facebook, period. And finally, it can access information which you agree to let it (voluntary disenfranchisement? :-$ ).
Essentially, in a world where everyone exclusively uses apps, you would have this mass of consumer information. It could help companies understand markets better. It could increase efficiency overall by helping them design products better, and bring them to consumers more quickly. But one things for certain, this information will bring about a transformational culmination to the globalization of information.
What does the future hold? The new cyber-space could be a lot more consolidated, and app makers could hold the keys to unlocking precious information on who's who, what they think, do, like or dislike. It could dominated by a few firms striving to implement their vision of the perfect world (like Standard Oil and the Seven Sisters?).
Or perhaps a world full of diversity and choice. In either case, i'm quite excited to find out!
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