The next big thing in personal computing

The next big thing in personal computing


As far as personal computing, there has been a strong shift, in the last few years, towards multimedia contents. It started with digital cameras in phones, around 2003, which is when people really started taking a lot pictures with their phones, and started using their computers to organise them. They also started using MP3 players, and having to manage their music. If pictures and music weren't big and cumbersome enough, people also started managing their movie libraries (even though today a lot of people give up and opt for a cheap satellite TV subscription from sites like http://www.saveontvdirect.com/) instead, as movies still are too big to manage for a lot of people...

Steve Jobs saw this shift before it happened -- or maybe he helped creating it, with his iPhones (for photos) and iPads (for music). Whichever the case, GNU/Linux has been trying to catch up with the whole concept of "Your computer as your media manager": there are good music and photo programs, but the consistency of the Apple platform has been something I've been dreaming of in the last few years (Ubuntu switched from Banshee to Rhythmbox in 12.4, Shotwell replaced F-spot, and these changes alone were enough to kill consistency in the PC-as-media world.

GNU/Linux is reaching maturity as a multimedia system. So, the question is, what is the next big thing? What will our computers be expected to do?

I really believe that the next big thing is the complete convergence between mobile phones and personal computers. There is already a level of confusion between tablets and computers. However, that's only half a step: the real step is when you will carry your personal computer in your pocket and will use it to make phone calls, take photos, and listen to music while on the go. The same device can then be plugged onto its docking station, so that you can then edit the photos you took, and have a more "normal" computing experience (the one with keyboard and mouse, that is).

For once, GNU/Linux is right there before others are: Ubuntu Touch promises to give us a device where everything finally converges. Maybe they will create this need, or maybe it's a need that is already there, waiting to be filled. Either way, it will take years for the others to catch up.

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