The Futurist: How The iPhone Will Change Mobile Devices

I’ve spent the past few weeks as the resident naysayer of the infallibility of the iPhone. And while there’s certainly a lot to be skeptical about here, there are a lot of things about the iPhone that won’t just be really neat, but could change our standards for mobile devices from here on out.

Read on to see…


No matter how (rightfully) skeptical we all are regarding Appple’s claims to battery longevity, in order to function for more than a few minutes, the iPhone will require a monumental shift in battery capability over most phones. The demands of widescreen video, WiFi web browsing, and lots of music listening would cripple most phones by morning coffee. Even if the iPhone doesn’t live up to Apple’s claims, merely engineering the device will have required Apple to come up with a way of stuffing more power into a small space than has ever been attempted on a consumer device — a feat which should be beneficial to all users of all mobile devices down the road. This is especially true when you take a look at Windows Mobile devices, which are such battery-drainers that some actually come packaged with two batteries.


Rumors abound of the iPhone’s use as an ad hoc remote control for AppleTV. With the exception of those moments when your smartphone syncs up with your computer, most mobile devices are limited islands of telephony. If Apple can transform the phone into a freewheeling controller that interacts with the multitude of gadgets you have laying around, it could do much to bridge the gap between hardware categories. Lets just hope that, down the line, such capabilities extend across manufacturers, so this aspect of the iPhone isn’t limited to Apple-made products.


Windows Mobile freezes, crashes, and is as slow as molasses. Still, it’s available on more phones, by far, than any other smartphone OS. All Apple has to do is show up with a product that doesn’t have load times as bad as the original PlayStation and it should force other OS makers into shape.


Apple smoke-and-mirrors SDK-through-Safari has drawn mounds of criticism as a mere cop-out. As much as I agree with this, it isn’t difficult to see this path causing an overnight rush of resources into Web-based applications designed specifically for mobile phones — a development that should benefit all mobile users (if an app is really great, it shouldn’t be long before it’s ported to Symbian and Windows Mobile.)

Seth Porges writes on future technology and its role in personal electronics for his column, The Futurist. It appears every Thursday and an archive of past columns is available here.