The god-like Powers Of Tech

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I do not know the source of this outstanding analysis, but I got it from Ben Thompson, HERE, and I will attribute it to him until such time as I’m advised otherwise.

ADDENDUM: Ben Thompson has informed me that the brilliant “Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence” analysis upon which I built this article was original to him. Outstanding!

Study the past, if you would divine the future. ~ Confucius

1) Four Ages: Hunter/Gatherer, Agrarian, Industrial, Information

It is generally accepted that the age of “Modern Man and Woman” began around 150,000 years ago.

— The Hunter/Gather Age lasted about 140,000 years.

— The Agricultural Age lasted about 10,000 years.

— The Industrial Age lasted about 300 years.

— The Information Age began about 30 years ago.

As you can tell at a glance, the Ages are occurring at an ever accelerating pace. Ideas beget ideas.

When it comes to global standards of living, history resembles a hockey stick resting on its side. ~ Marian Tupy

CAPTION: Real GDP from 1 to 2008 BCE

Humans are distinguished from other species by our ability to work miracles. We call these miracles technology ~ Peter Thiel (@peterthiel)

CAPTION: Life Expectancy In England From 1540 to 2011

There was a time when people owned one suit and no other garment at any given time. Only a century ago. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco) 11/1/14

If you’re yearning for the good old days, just turn off the air conditioning. ~ Griff Niblack

If you think you have it tough, read history books. ~ Bill Maher

The Agriculture Age multiplied our food. Farmers could grow enough food for themselves, and have a surplus to sell to others. This allowed for the rise of cities and civilizations.

The Industrial Age multiplied our muscle. A single person sitting in a bulldozer could do the work of thirty, and do it while exerting much less back-breaking effort.

The Information Age is multiplying our minds. A single mind can crunch calculations in seconds that a thousand clerks could not have completed in a decade.

For me, a computer has always been a bicycle of the mind. Something that takes us far beyond our inherent abilities. ~ Steve Jobs

2) The Information Age

My 7 year old just asked “Does B.C. mean before computers?” ~ Micah N Gorrell (@_minego) 6/14/15

The Information Age — which only just began 30 years ago ((Contrarians often contend that one age has not yet ended, which means the next age, or stage, could not yet have begun. However, when a new age or stage begins, the other age or stage does not disappear, it simply diminished in importance. A new — more important — layer is added atop the last.

Man and womankind did not stop hunting when the Agricultural Age began. Neither did they stop growing food when the Industrial Age began. Just the opposite — they grew food at an every faster pace.

The farmer since 1800 has become more productive in the United States by a factor of 36. -Deirdre McCloskey

The same is true of the Information age. Just because we’ve left the age of desktops and notebooks does not mean that they’ll disappear, anymore than agriculture or industrial machinery disappeared.)) — is already in its third stage.

Stage 1: Omnipotence

The computers of the 1980’s and early 90’s were all about Omnipotence — the promise of computing power. The combination of Microsoft, Intel and Moore’s law, kept computing power doubling and re-doubling, seemingly ad infinitum.

Stage 2: Omniscience

The mid-ninties brought us Omniscience. The combination of the Internet and Google Search put all the knowledge of human history at our fingertips. Some of us were less-than-impressed with how we actually employed this seemingly god-like power ((“I have a device in my pocket containing the sum of all human knowledge…
…I use it to view pictures of cats, and start arguments with strangers. ~ Phil Veal

I’ll use a quote from Steve Jobs to respond to the pessimism expressed, above:

Tools are always going to be used for certain things we don’t find personally pleasing. And it’s ultimately the wisdom of people, not the tools themselves, that is going to determine whether or not these things are used in positive, productive ways. ~ Steve Jobs)) but no objective observer can deny that our ability to rapidly and accurately search the internet was a giant leap forward in the way in which humans gained access to their shared storehouse of knowledge.

CAPTION: The main file room at FBI headquarters in Washington DC, 1944 (via LIFE)

Stage 3: Omnipresence

The smartphone industry compressed 25 years of PC industry history into 5. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 11/12/14

The third stage of the Information Age was initiated by Apple in 2007 and 2008 with the introduction of the iPhone and the App Store, and extended by Google with the introduction of their free Android operating system.


Pundits underestimate the revolutionary power of the intuitive smartphone user interface — probably because we’re old. Remember IT departments? Kid’s don’t.

An entire generation is growing up without knowing what ‘I don’t have local admin rights’ means. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

Teaching a teenager how to use a smartphone is like giving a fish a bath. ((Shamelessly stolen from Arnold H. Glasgow: “Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.”))

Using our fingers — using touch as the primary input method — seems so natural, so obvious, to us now. But it wasn’t at all obvious in 2006.


So much of what we try to do is get to a point where the solution seems inevitable: you know, you think ‘of course it’s that way, why would it be any other way?’ It looks so obvious, but that sense of inevitability in the solution is really hard to achieve. ~ Jony Ive

Microsoft and Blackberry made smarter and smarter user interfaces. But we didn’t want a smarter user interface. What we wanted — and what Apple gave us — was a user interface that makes US feel smarter. A user interface that makes us feel better about ourselves. A user interface that makes computing FUN and something we want to do, even when we don’t have to do it. The iPhone user interface gave us all that…and more.



People sometimes forget that the iPhone was introduced in 2007 and that it took another year before the App Store was introduced.

It will take until February (2008) to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once: provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task.,” Jobs wrote on Apple’s Hot News page. “We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones. ~ Steve Jobs (Quote provided via Mark Rogowsky, of Forbes)

Talk about an understatement.

The powerful one-two combination of the iPhone/App Store — like the powerful combination of Microsoft Windows/Intel and the combination of Internet/Google Search — created a wholly new category of device that was so small, so easy to use, and so easy to enhance via seamless — and inexpensive — access to software programs known as “apps”, that almost every person on Earth could — and more importantly, every person on Earth would want to — carry it with them at all times.

Removing what seems like trivial friction can have an enormous impact on how useful a product is. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 6/18/15

How true. But the App Store removed more than trivial friction. It removed an entire dam of frustration and unleashed a virtual flood of innovation. How quickly we forget that, in 2007, if we wanted to install software on our computers, we used to have to travel to a store, buy software in a box — often at hundreds of dollars per program — bring it back to our home or office, spend hours installing it, and act as our own IT department if anything went amiss. Nowadays, I can be flinging angry birds at hungry pigs in a mere matter of seconds. Or, to take a slightly more serious tack, I can annually upgrade my computer operating system — with virtually no effort — from almost anywhere — for free.

At the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple released a video entitled “The Incredible Impact of Developers” ((The video was named “The Incredible Impact Of Developers” when it was originally displayed on Apple’s web site, but it has since been renamed “The App Effect” when it was made available on YouTube.)). You can watch the video, HERE.


Here are two transcribed excerpts from the video:

Apps plus handheld devices. I think that’s a watershed moment for civilization. I put it up there with the invention of the microscope and the telescope. Here we live in a time where the most powerful tools ever imagined to investigate and probe our world are in the hand of essentially everyone. ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist

If you think the industrial revolution was transformational, the App Store is way bigger. I don’t think we’ve seen anything reach a mass adoption at anything close to this pace. It took, for example, electricity over 100 years to get to its first 50 million users. It took television 13 years…and the App Store got to 50 million users in only 17 months. ~ James Manyika, Director, McKinsey Global Institute

Perhaps you think the above speakers are engaging in egregious hyperbole?

Or, more likely, you have forgotten the 9 circles of hell that you had to sojourn in order to download an application onto your mobile phone in 2006. Dante’s hell hath no fury like that of the Verizon and Cingular technocrats of yore.

Do you remember WAP? Well, of course you don’t. You have psychogenic amnesia, which is your brain’s way of protecting you from traumatic events — like WAP — that are too horrible for the psyche to bear. If you were to look up the historical records, you would see that WAP caused early onset Tourettes. Victims, who had been exposed to WAP for too long a period of time, would begin to twitch, violently convulse, and suddenly break into uncontrolled fits of swearing.

Human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. ~ Aldous Huxley

The hardest part of creating a new platform is getting developers to develop for it. And Apple made that part look like a walk in the park.

In 2008 Apple launches the App Store with 500 apps. In 2015 the App Store has 1,500,000 apps.

The average person has 119 apps.
850 apps downloaded every second.
100,000,000,000 apps downloaded.

It’s not hyperbole if it’s real. And there’s nothing more real than the effects of the smartphone/app store combo.

$10.35 billion: amount American moviegoers spent on ticket purchases.

$14.28 billion: amount iOS users spent on apps.

~ Horace Dediu on Twitter

The term “game changer” is way over used, but when it comes to the iPhone/App Store combo, the term is spot on.

We were able to change the rules of the game, and that’s what got us excited about getting in the phone business. ~ Steve Jobs

3) The Omnipresence Stage

The current stage of computing is Omnipresence and it has been misunderstood, misapplied and misdefined.


The important part of “Mobile” devices is not their mobility, but the fact that they are ever present on our persons.

Yes, it’s true that many people DO NOT carry their Smartphones with them at all times…yet. But this is only because it is early days. As time passes, even the outliers will be drawn toward keeping their phones with them at all times. And, as an aside, this is one of the reasons why wearables are a shoo-in to become the next great computing category. More on that, below.


Note that while the category “mobile” lumps tablets and phones together, “Omnipresence” does not. Phones are ever present. Tablets are not. Computing has bifurcated into primary supercomputers that we always have with us and secondary computers that have larger screens.

We tend to think of ‘tablets and smartphones’ as a new category next to ‘PCs’. More helpful to think of ‘big screen and small screen’. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Tablets are not hired to do the same job as smartphones. While smartphones are our primary — and for most, our only — computing devices, tablets — along with hybrids, notebooks and desktops — are secondary devices catering to those who need greater screen size, flexibility, complexity or power.

Posit, paradox of usability: the more powerful, flexible & general-purpose a computer system, the smaller/narrower the user base & use cases. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

‘Computing’ is inexorably being absorbed by the mobile phone. ~ @asymco


Yes, today’s devices are “mobile”, but that is not what defines them. The current stage of computing is defined by the intersection of three separate elements:

1) Everyone; will have a
2) Supercomputer;
3) With them at all times.

4) Everyone

Everyone’s going to have a mobile phone. Yes, everyone. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

7.1bn people on earth.
5.2bn adults
4.4bn literate adults
3.5-4bn mobile phone users, so far
~3bn internet users

~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

Some time next year, the 20 billionth mobile phone will be sold. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 6/17/15

Smartphones are being sold to four-fifths of the adults on the planet.

More people on earth have a mobile phone than a street address. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


By 2020, 90 percent of the world’s population over 6 years old will have a mobile phone. – Ericsson

Largest Tech Expansion Ever

In 2007, Apple introduced the modern smartphone. Eight years later, there are approximately 2 billion Smartphones in existence and we are headed town having 4 billion people on earth with a Smartphone. Smartphones are being sold to almost everyone on earth and they are upgraded every two to three years. There will soon be something like 5 times more smartphones than consumer PCs and, unlike PCs, they will be always will you, available for use both both at work and at home and while traveling.

Unit sales since 1995:
16.7bn phones
4.2bn PCs
~ Benedict Evans on Twitter


Mobile phones sell at ~2bn units a year, to ~4bn people, at $200 avg. Has any manufactured product ever done similar? ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

The sale of a smartphone to ~4bn people in the next few years is the largest expansion of the reach of industrial capitalism in history. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 11/16/14

(Emphasis added)


For hundreds of millions of people, mobile phones are not just their first computer but their first electrical device of any kind. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

Many middle-class families in China never owned a personal computer or television, jumping directly to mobile devices. ~ Ajit Pai on Twitter

Over half the rural population of Bangladesh now has a mobile phone. That’s a totally new kind of purchase. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

5) Supercomputer

Today, your cell phone has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon. ~ Dr. Michio Kaku

Today, your cell phone has more computer power than a supercomputer called a Cray-1 back in 1975. A Cray-1’s raw computational power of 80 million floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) pales beside the 76.8 Gflops inside the iPhone 5s.

Today, your cell phone has more computer power than a supercomputer called a Cray-2 bak in 1990. The Cray-2 was the worlds fastest computer. The liquid-cooled, 200-kilowatt Cray-2 had a performance of up to 1.9 GFLOPS, which still compares unfavorably to the 76.8 Gflops inside the iPhone 5s.


6) Everpresent

The most interesting place to be is no longer in front of a computer, it’s to go out into the world with a computer in your hand. ~ @monkbent

An always-with-us device changes entirely the way we interact with our computers and the way everyone else, who has a supercomputer in their pocket, interacts with us. The always-on-you supercomputer changes the way we communicate, and the way we exchange ideas. It even changes the way we trade and it has — already — created an entirely new branch of trade known as the sharing economy.

Someone much smarter than me, called the smartphone a “cursor for the cloud”. The smartphone always knows where you are and that adds context — a dimension that simply was not possible with earlier computer devices.


The productivity benefits of asynchronous communication are hard to overstate. Not too long ago, the world ran on meetings and phone calls. ~ Balaji S. Srinivasan on Twitter

There will be more written on Twitter in the next two years than all the words in all the books ever printed. ~ Dataclysm

If you look at the personal computer, it’s going from being a tool of computation to a tool of communication. ~ Steve Jobs


We’re now talking not about hundreds of people getting the benefits of an idea, but of millions. ~ “The App Effect”



The above bears repeating. There will be more photos taken this year than were taken on film…EVER.

Do you think all the recent videos of police shootings are a coincidence? Think again. Everyone has a camera with them at all times.


The key to rising prosperity over the course of human history has been the exchange of goods. ~ Bill Gates

If you have networks of trade and exchange, it becomes cheaper to buy stuff than to steal it. ~ Steven Pinker

No meaningful shopping malls have opened in the US since 2009. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

Just stop for a moment and think about the implications of the above.

Thanks largely to smartphones, ecommerce is a $4b industry in… Vietnam. ~ Andrew McAfee (@amcafee) 6/13/15

It turns out, there are a lot of middlepersons in this society. And they generally tend to slow things down, muck things up, and make things more expensive. The elimination of them is going to be profound. ~ Steve Jobs

Sharing Economy

We don’t have to own things. We don’t have to own our own cars. We don’t have to own our own music. We can call it up when we need it. ~ “The App Effect”

Apps like airbnb and Uber have literally changed the way we do business.

Who’d have thought NYC taxi revenues would be slashed in 2014, because of iPhones… ~ Walt French 10/2/14

No one predicted Uber when the iPhone came out in 2007. No one. The truth is, we just don’t know what these devices will allow us to do next. We. Just. Do. Not. Know.

7) Changing The World

Most tech innovation is attacked as ‘rich people’s toys’, but ends up giving the poor things that previously only the rich could have. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

See if you can think of a technology that didn’t start looking like a toy for rich people. Now, one that didn’t help everyone. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

It’s still a common mistake to see smartphones (and even phones) as a luxury. In fact, their value is inversely proportionate to income. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 8/15/14

Mobile in emerging markets solves problems much further down Maslow’s Hierarchy. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 8/24/14

The Juniper report divides the two groups thus: Poor people use the mobile Internet for personal advancement, whereas rich people use it for personal convenience.

24 percent of people in developing countries use the mobile Internet for educational purposes, versus 12 percent in the richest countries. ~ Juniper Report

97 percent of people in developing countries say mobile Internet access has been transformative in their lives, versus 78 percent in the richest countries, including the United States. ~ Juniper Report

CAPTION: Charging Phones Via Solar Power

Some people will walk for a day or more just to charge their phone in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa… ~ @BenedictEvans

8) The Next Stage — Always With Us…And Always On Us

The Ages of Man and Womankind are moving faster and faster, and the stages of the Information Age are tumbling, one upon another, at an every quickening pace.

As I mentioned, above, the Information Age is only 30 years old, but we’re already in the third (Omnipresence) stage. The third stage of the Information Age began only 7 years ago, with the introduction of the App Store… but we may already be entering the next stage of development.

Smartphones (pocket supercomputers) are important because they are always with us, but smartwatches ((Smartwatches are poor descriptions of wearable technological devices, because the time keeping aspect of the device is its least important attribute. In other words, the watch is to a smartwatch as the phone is to a smartphone.)) are not only always with us but, unlike smartphones, they are also always on us, too. This adds at least two wholly new dimensions to computing.


First, being “always on us” adds Identity. The Smartwatch knows who we are — and that we are who we say we are — and this allows us to discreetly and securely broadcast our identity to payment centers, other individuals, home and car locks, and an endless variety of wirelessly connected devices.


Second, being “always on us” adds sensors that are in touch with our bodies and which can read and monitor our physical condition.

I think we’re in the very early days of sensors. We’ll soon look back at the Apple Watch’s feeble heart-rate monitors and mock them in the same way that we currently mock the original iPhone’s inability to take videos or perform simple tasks such as “cut and paste.”

Even though we’re only in the early days, the path ahead is clear to see. Once the Smartwatch becomes the norm — and it’s already well on its way — and once sensors become more sensitive and more powerful — the health and fitness benefits that the Smartwatch will provide to us are, literally, unimaginable. (Or, at least, the health and fitness benefits are beyond the limits of this author’s poor imagination.)

Just as one example, some modern cars can automatically alert a service center about a technical problem, yet a child’s looming illness creates no such alert. Children being born today will look back at their parents lives and wonder how they even survived without “always-on” devices to monitor their health.

You think I’m exaggerating? Try this experiment. Picture the state of technology that existed on the day you were born. Got it? Archaic, right?

That is how children being born today will picture the smartwatch.

9) The Next Age

I’m talking about entering the next stage in the Information Age, but perhaps I should be talking abut entering the next Age of Man and Womankind, instead.

With Google Now and Apple’s recent entry into predictive technology, it’s clear that technology is morphing out of the role of a dumb servant and into the role of a helpful, ever-present, assistant.

The next thing is going to be computer as guide or agent. And what that means is that it’s going to do more in terms of anticipating what we want and doing it for us. ~ Steve Jobs

However, my guess is that the next Age, after the Age of Information, will be tiny wearable devices imbedded in our clothing or our bodies, which will act — for the most part — without conscious interaction or decision-making on our part. Today, supermarket doors slide open as they anticipate our approach. Tomorrow’s technology will anticipate our approach and prepare our path. Who knows where that path may lead?

Science is magic that works. ~ Kurt Vonnegut on Twitter

10) Conclusion

Mankind, by the perverse depravity of their nature, esteem that which they have most desired as of no value the moment it is possessed… ~ François de Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon, Télémaque

The Agricultural Age gave us a cornucopia of food. The Industrial Age gave us the strength of giants. The Information Age has given us the god-like powers of omnipotence, omniscience and now, omnipresence.

I was a peripheral visionary. I could see the future, but only way off to the side. ~ Steven Wright

I suspect that most of us are peripheral visionaries too. We can see things way off to the side, but we often don’t see the things that are occurring right in front of us.

I don’t know much, but I know this: We’re still just at the very beginning of all this.

And I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Published by

John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

803 thoughts on “The god-like Powers Of Tech”

  1. You hit the nail on the head with every point. A very positive article. I support everything you said.

    There are concerns though. There are still IT departments, just not under the device owner’s control. They sit in the corporate structures of the phone, ISP, and device manufactures. They are abstracted, and IMO, too powerful.

    “The same is true of the Information age. Just because we’ve left the age of desktops and notebooks does not mean that they’ll disappear, anymore than agriculture or industrial machinery disappeared. ”

    I like this comment a lot. It indicates that the users who want/need/know how to use, that level of computing power, can have it. And you can’t deny it’s a far superior level of computing power. Though these devices are at lower levels of ubiquity, they are at a much higher level of the computing hierarchy. You need one, after all, to program the mobile devices (even when you’re allowed to program the mobile devices).

    While mobile deserves all the praise it gets for “raising the average”, there cannot be innovation, period, without the desktop, even in mobile. The desktop is also, by far, more under the owners control than mobile will ever be, and thus “more personal”, more intimate. Mobile is “more individual”, like the marine slogan, “this is my gun, there are other’s like it, but this one is mine”.

    1. As I pointed out in my article, farmers in the United States increased their productivity 36 times during the industrial age. I think the same will be true of PCs. They are incredibly useful tools that will continue to increase in power and productivity in the coming years. But just as agriculture is subservient to industry, stationary and transportable PCs will be subservient to our “always-with-us”computing devices.

        1. Asking “which programs which” is as irrelevant as asking who fed the industrial workers. There could be no industrial age without farms and farmers. And there could be no mobile stage without the desktops and notebooks that preceded them. But farming did not define the Industrial Age and PCs no longer define the Information Age.

          In 1900 98% of Americans were farmers. In 2000, only 2% of Americans lived on farms. I expect to see a similar, but not identical, shift from PCs to “always-with-us” devices.

          1. Being that they are a direct cause and effect, it’s hardly irrelevant. The analogy of agriculture transitioning to industrialism only has economic, not functional, relevancy. It’s not either agriculture or industrialism, it’s both. Yes, industrialism did make agriculture more efficient.

            In the case of the information economy, it’s PC’s that code mobile AND it’s PCs (and larger computers) that contain the data, and it’s big fat pipes that carry the data. The phone doesn’t really “have the internet in it”. Mobile is but a portal, with the advantage of ubiquity, but make no mistake about it, mobile is but a subset of computing.

            “The network is the computer” – Bill Joy

    2. The desktop is also, by far, more under the owners control than mobile will ever be, and thus “more personal”, more intimate. Mobile is “more individual”, like the marine slogan, “this is my gun, there are other’s like it, but this one is mine”.

      Why do you think the desktop is more personal? Because you can install the drivers, play with network settings? Why is this important to a mobile user?

      1. The mobile user is inherently more dependent on their device manufacturer, and obviously, the carriers. Some of this is due to technical requirements, and is obviously understandable. Some is due to policy, such as where the users are allowed to (or not) get software and content. In computing, what is more personal than choice of software and content? Storage is highly restricted as well. This, you will note, is before we even get into sizes, speeds, and feeds.

        The normal function of an IT department is to administer hardware, software, and the network. On the PC, the owner of the device decides who fills that role, and that entity does what the owner tells them to do. That’s more “personal”. That function in mobile is usurped by the manufacturers (some more than others) and the carriers.

        In another comment, immediately above, I quote Bill Joy’s “The network is the computer”. If the network is “The Internet”, mobile only allows access to a controlled subset of the internet. The desktop is the whole thing. That too is more personal.

        1. Are you a developer and that you can not write an application for personal use is inconvenient for you? It should be a way to do that, otherwise testing of the appications before they get to the App store would not be possible.

          A central distribution of the applications allows for a more secure model, where an individual app will not crash the network and there will be less viruses etc. A storage and computing are distributed now. Some of it happens on the device, some, where it makes more sense, in the cloud. This also allows to synchronize apps and content over a wide area network.

          From the users prospective, there are hundreds of thousands applications available for download, so they are not particularly constrained on what type of software they run. They can choose whatever they like and customize it for their own preferences.

          You were able to access only a controlled subset of Internet 7-8 years ago when there were “walled gardens”. But now the access is pretty wide open and having gazillions of app at your fingertips pretty much puts you in a driving seat. So I think a mobile is not a portal now, but a control for your life.

          1. I’m avoiding getting into particular company issues, but there is too much done by fiat. What recourse does a company, or user, have to change things? What input does a developer, or user, have in making the rules? This isn’t about testing what is in the App Store, it’s about what’s allowed in the App Store, and what other stores are available for what’s legitimate, but not allowed. Wiley was blanket banned for a while, from a very prominent App Store, by fiat, for what an executive didn’t like.

            “From the users prospective, there are hundreds of thousands applications available for download”
            What we will never know, is what could have been without manufacturer and carrier interference. Both good and bad. But a restriction over “duplicating functionality”, by definition forbids “improving functionality”.

            In the past walls were put up by the content owners, not the manufacturer of the device.
            No I am not a developer, though I have written code in the past. I am an owner of devices.

            “A control for your life”
            Yes! Which is why I demand that I control it. This means, for me anyway, the desktop is the broadest, most complete solution. Does everyone need it? No, but it’s capabilities are not to be diminished. Like I said, you need the desktop to code for mobile. Subset.

          2. In the past “walled gardens” were put by in place the carriers who just wanted to push their own content to the user. It is no longer the case.

            It is understandable that the device manufacturers act as curators of the content submitted to them. They are like editors in the public newspaper. I am not familiar with a particular App store process, but I do not believe that the applications that reasonably differ from the ones they already have would be banned. I see a lot of apps in App store that essentially do the same thing, but in different ways. Part of the reason that the app could be banned could be to prevent a costly litigation from other app developers if there was a copyright violation or stuff like that. This is also to protect an app developer from the additional costs involved.

            There are avenues though that can be used to submit a content not subject to curation by the device manufacturer. I believe You Tube for example do not need an approval. But apps are a little different than video content in terms of IP protection and effects they may have on the network and user devices. If not successful with a particular App store, you can try another one or take it up the command chain. I realize that there are only three application stores because of three main ecosystems. May be this can be improved in the future.

          3. “In the past “walled gardens” were put by in place the carriers who just wanted to push their own content to the user. It is no longer the case.”

            I neglected that. Thank you. And yes, the carriers deserve contempt for that.

            I agree that one should be able to curate the content in their store. I object to a mandatory singular store.

            There’s absolutely nothing preventing abolition of any App, or site, under the current rules. That they are not, is because it serves them.

          4. “Thank you. And yes, the carriers deserve contempt for that.”

            I remembered that even with the “walled gardens” when carriers controlled the content, there was a way for independent developers to publish their content anyway. You had to work with a special intermediary company – a publisher, that would work with a carrier and agree on the content. Publisher would carry many lines of applications.

          5. “If not successful with a particular App store, you can try another one or take it up the command chain. I realize that there are only three application stores because of three main ecosystems. May be this can be improved in the future.”

            Apparently I was not familiar enough with an issue. Due to the openness of Android ecosystem, there are options for third party app stores already embedded in it.

            So here you go. You have some options.

          6. It’s the main reason I use Android, but still no comparison to the PC for me. I do own a lot of tablets, and ascribe to the Ben Bajarin model. They are scattered throughout the the house, in arm’s reach. They almost never leave the house. I always have a laptop in the car, and carry a Note4 and S6 at all times.

        2. Boy, you are really overthinking and contorting this “personal” thing.

          Apparently you feel that the computer permanently residing on my desk, or the one at work, is somehow more personal to me because some layer of administration or other, that I may or may not feel hampered by at a given moment, is done by either myself or the company I work for, vs some distant “faceless” corporation? That’s a bit contorted.

          For most people in the world, including me (“power user” that I may be) – and particularly for the two thirds world that Ben Evans is citing as having mobile devices as their first computer – the mobile device is far more personal than any PC that many in the world have or will ever have access to (let alone own) …simply because all personal communication (work and social) goes through it, not to mention a lot of emotional energy and tangible connection with people.

          That’s personal; how can it not be? It’s that simple. It’s intimately personal — which for many people is, in it’s own way, as empowering, if not more so, than the additional capability made possible on a PC that they completely administrates themselves. If anything, total oversight of administration is a distinctly impersonal experience that many wish to avoid; and calling in the geek squad to help is anything but personal.

          But an unavoidable and striking aspect of “personal” in the, uh, personal sense, is that many people will share a PC (family, work, school, etc.), but a mobile device is, uh, more personal. That’s the kind of “personal” that the ‘P’ in PC stands for (not whatever contorted meaning you try to give it)!

          A mobile device is more personal than the PC in exactly the same way the PC is more personal than the mini computer or mainframe (or server, which, when it suits you, you seem to have no problem referring to as a PC though it is distinctly impersonal). Mobile devices are more ubiquitous, per capita, than PC’s; just as PC’s are than their predecessors. And they are always with us.

          Take photos, for example: they might be stored, or even sorted on a PC, but the mobile device is actually taking the photos; and that is where viewing is typically done and shared as well. That’s a tangible connection with people. That’s personal. In the sense that most people use that word.

          So, whatever the layer of administration a person does or does not feel hampered by on a given device, PC or Mobile, it’s really about jobs to be done, familiarity, interacting with the world, etc. Personally, I try to get away from my desktop when possible. The mobile device is my preferred means of computing, if I have a choice. In fact, my mobile devices allow me to be both productive and get out and interact with the world at the same time (and this enhances personal development). There’s that word, “personal”, again.

          For the occasions or particular tasks for which I don’t have a choice, then I have a PC to fall back on; but these are typically, on average, more impersonal, albeit more complicated, tasks.

          So, not only is the mobile device more personal by definition (as PCs are than mainframes), but they are more so by nature (for most people) — more likely to be used than PC’s for personal and intimate tasks (such as communicating and sharing images, scheduling, making lists, learning, etc.).

          1. In the context of a device, not a conversation, the more latitude for it to do what it’s owner wants it to do, the more personal. The more the owner is the arbiter of what to run and how to administer, the more personal it is.

            You cite examples of conversations, thoughts, mainly ideas communicated through devices as personal. It’s the thoughts and ideas that are indeed the personal. Mobile is simply acting on the most common (and relatively simple) “jobs to be done”.

            Let’s say I’m a mathematics researcher (I’m not) and I just came up with a program that’s a breakthrough in Mersenne Prime discovery. I want to share it with my colleagues and have it peer reviewed. Tomorrow! Or I want to sell it. What platform do you think I’m going to use? Who’s “permission” should I need? That’s personal!

          2. Ah, you might be onto something if all of life was all about computers. But since it isn’t you are merely conflating “permission” and “capability” and elevating that with some sense of personal freedom in order to make that the definition of “personal”, whatever the context.

            So, you have picked an example of writing a mathematics program (necessarily tied to computing in some way). And because this app represents some of his life’s work, this project is personally important to him. It’s personal.

            But because he can’t do “everything” from start to finish on his iPhone (diagram, code, compile, execute, package, distribute and sell it), all right there on his iPhone, his iPhone is apparently less personal than his PC. He might talk all night long about the program with his mates, on their iPhones; but the need for the extra capability of a PC makes the PC more “personal”.

            Respectfully, all this just makes the PC more capable. As the mainframe and minicomputer were (at first) more capable than PC’s. They certainly weren’t more “personal” than PCs, even during all the years that PCs were just dumb terminals. That dumb terminal was as personal as it got, whoever administered all the different sorts of rights and apps on it, whatever capability it had. As I said, that’s why they called it a “PC”.

            I seem to recall you having a similar discussion about the term, “general purpose”. You can’t interchange them. “Personal”, even “in the context of a device” doesn’t suddenly somehow mean “applicable to most things that you might regularly throw at it so that you have little need of anything else”.

            You claim that: “The desktop is also, by far, more under the owners control than mobile will ever be, and thus “more personal”, more intimate. Mobile is “more individual”, like the marine slogan, “this is my gun, there are other’s like it, but this one is mine”

            This may make a little sense to those whose entire world revolves around PCs because it involves computing that can for the most part only be done on PCs. But, it seems you are really protesting against a new view of the world, a world one might call “Post PC”, in which a lot of new spheres are opened up to Mobile in particular, because of the injection of software and new applications of software into new businesses and industries where it wasn’t applied significantly before: transportation, sales, health, fitness, learning, farming, micro-business, IOT, interior location, etc., Such as through sensors on devices that are always with us.

            There is no way you can say these spheres and activities are all about “conversation” and not “device” when it is the mobile or wearable personal device that opens up the whole possibility of injecting software into anything and everything in unimagined ways. It doesn’t matter how “simple” the activities are, many activities will only be done on mobile devices.

            Thus, the mobile device is both “more personal”, “more intimate” and “more individual” than the PC. But the mobile device may be less capable, sure. For some things. That a whole load of people don’t do. That aren’t really that personal and don’t require sensors and location and stuff…

          3. You really paid attention, and I respect that immensely.

            It’s not “only” more capable (it is) it’s the freedom of being able to do it at all. This very article talked about the evolution of computing power and ability. Today’s phones have the power of circa 2000 desktops. We were perfectly free with our desktops in 2000…

          4. You are still conflating a couple of things: capability and freedom. You are trying to get around this by saying “freedom of being able”. That is still capability. You objected to me talking about “conversation” vs “device”. Now I am going to object to you being “perfectly free”. Because you are and you aren’t.

            There is more “freedom” in having more computing capability, sure. But there are other types of freedom, too. Such as mobility. duh. With a mobile device I am “free” to better communicate, film, track my position, track movement, read comfortably, learn, cook, multi-task, meet, present, teach…

            Those are all real activities where real freedom is valued for to achieve real goals or productivity: and these activities are either very personal and interpersonal in nature (“conversation”), or unique to me and my current activity (“device”). And many of these represent capabilities that PCs don’t have, so the power of phones now vs older PCs is moot.

          5. Yes, being untethered is indeed another form of freedom. You are untethered as long as what you want to do can be done, while untethered. If it can’t, then for those functions you’re tethered.

            I have this insecurity of not being able to do something on the road, that’s why I’m never without a laptop. This, even as I have two premium phones on me as well. Would I ever board an airplane with just a tablet? Two things would have to happen first a) The tablet would first have to leave the house and then b) hell would freeze over.

          6. Good point about being tethered. I think this is what mobile ultimately means. Even with a laptop as long as you are untethered to a place – you are mobile.

          7. Yes, more capability leads to more freedom (with caveats), on that we agree. But you have to redefine “personal” to make the next leap.

            You may personally prefer to carry your laptop with you because it gives you more freedom to perform more tasks requiring more capability — which you evidently have more of, more of the time, and more of the places you go.

            But that doesn’t make your laptop more “personal” and your phone less so, by most definitions. It may be semantic to some degree, but generally, the more “general” something is (as in “general computing” device), the more impersonal it becomes, not personal…

            Eg., I can use my wife’s or colleague’s PC “almost” as easily as I can my own, because of user accounts, USB drive, internet connection,n general software, etc. And I do. But, I wouldn’t dream of using even my wife’s phone (except quickly as an actual phone), because it’s, well, personal.

            And the point is, it’s more than just an arbitrary label to call the phone/watch/mobile device more “personal”, because with fingerprint, and other sensors, etc., it is actually very tied to one person; and mobile devices will soon open up lots more capabilities of all kinds (keys to my personal car, house, office?) that PCs will not have.

            Again, the “freedom” that mobile devices therefore convey, may not be about completing a particular task that requires greater computing power or control over software, but freedoms that relate to all sorts of everyday tasks, everywhere. Obviously, you aren’t completely free either, because you take two phones with you in addition to your laptop. I feel pretty safe to wager that your phones “know more about you” than your laptop does. Most people’s phones do. That’s because they are more personal devices.

          8. If I’m encumbered by hardware capability, or policy, or both, of the options I have available to me to run on a device I own, it’s less personal. If developers can’t work on certain things on my device, thus limiting my choices, it makes it less personal as well.

            I reserve the right to “personally” choose which Fart App (existant or potential) I want on my hardware, as the sole arbiter.

          9. “You may personally prefer to carry your laptop with you because it gives you more freedom to perform more tasks requiring more capability — which you evidently have more of, more of the time, and more of the places you go.”

            Personally, I call that a ball and chain.


          10. That was such a rich post, when I revisit it, I feel compelled to answer to another part. Well done.

            Regarding mainframes, great example! They were more capable in the beginning. Were they more free? Absolutely not. You needed privileges for everything. You were even told what time to come and get your printout, that’s if you had permission to print.

            It comes down to this… Who is (or tells) the IT department, or administrator what to do? It should be the owner. That’s what makes the PC personal, over the mainframe. The same concept applies versus mobile.

          11. I can relate to that as an important notion; I think it resonates with people…

            But, I think you should switch your terms. You used “individual” at one point, saying the mobile device was more “individual”, while the PC was more “personal”.

            What you are talking about here is individualism for the PC in terms of “individual autonomy”. The PC is more “individualistic”, while the Mobile Device is more “social”. There is an Individual-Social dimension or continuum. But the Mobile Device is more Personal, sorry.

            “Who is (or tells) the IT department, or administrator what to do?That’s what makes the PC personal, over the mainframe.”

            I think this statement is applied in retrospect. It wasn’t really the thinking at the time, since “PC”s were largely in the workplace and there was an IT department; and, significantly, the user was usually not the owner.

            For at least a decade, the PC was not a “home computer”; the Apple ][ was, as were Ataris, Commodores, Acorns, Amigas, Sinclairs, etc., which MS drove out of business with its OS-OEM business tactics. When they did become home computers, the settings were so obfuscated that the average person had no clue how to administer it, as they don’t to this day.

            You and Obart are very much in the minority in your ability to administer a PC effectively. Apple sought to rectify that. What Apple did, and does effectively, is to make the end user at least feel more personally in control. And this empowers the end user to do all sorts of creative and useful, productive tasks with his computer, instead of constantly “fighting” it. That is personal.

            Like your Mathematician example: perhaps the end user can’t do everything you would want to do, but he can get on and do what is personally important to him in most cases, certainly to a degree; and that is more personal than sitting there setting up the computer, which is only personally fulfilling to an IT person.

          12. You know what? I like you!

            I’ve said this before, Apple DOES do their users a service by being the IT department. I have no problem with that being the “default setting”. None at all. I do desire an “alternate configuration”.
            I would also like to buy from alternate stores on iOS. In fact, beyond warranty support, I don’t want to be required to deal with Apple, or anyone, post-purchase, as a condition of purchase. My fiend Space Gorilla would say I need to do that with my car. He’s right, I don’t like that either, but I don’t have a choice. (And Apple’s restrictions cut deeper than my car’s).

            “I need to achieve my own personal, social and business goals, and produce my output”

            So does our hypothetical mathematician, or the teacher or professor that has written a library of Java Applets for education.

            Thus far, we just discussed software. Did the iMac really need to be thinner at the expense of user serviceability? Do components such as the video cards of the Mac Pro (btw, I have one) need to be proprietary to fit in a small cylinder? If I have to dangle all this stuff from the TB and USB ports, am I really saving space? Who does the absence of SD slots in iOS devices really serve? I find them to be self serving. You would correctly say it saves Apple support costs. It does, that too is self serving.

            Much of what you say, correctly, illustrates “raising the average”, and it’s truly commendable. This need not come at the expense of those already knowledgeable in working with the gizmo.

            Still, if there were models that address my objections, I would not have such broad objections.

            “It should be as simple as possible, but not too simple” -Albert Einstein.

    3. I think the desktop vs mobile debate is mostly pointless: sure, desktops were the first version of a personal computer, and they’re used to write the mobiles’ apps. But I don’t think they’re superior, or that there’s a hierarchy, any more than there’s a hierarchy of trucks > cars (and I did manage to write in a car analogy, I should be getting geek points ! I’ll do my best to make my next one about pizzas)

      I think Mobile, by combining 5 key things (always on, always on-person, always online, easy, and, erm… ” powerful enough” ? a vague term, covers CPU, storage, GPU, screen…) opens up use cases wholly different than a PC.

      1. In a mathematical sense, if you need a PC to code for mobile, there is a hierarchy. The PC can stand alone. It also has no restrictions relative to mobile, thus it’s broader.

        1. The PC can only stand alone if you don’t need to take it with you. Everything is limited in some way. The artificial distinction you’re making is going to disappear, that is obvious, and inevitable. And when that happens you’ll find some other reason to say mobile devices are not ‘real PCs’.

          1. There is nothing artificial at all about PC programs mobile. It’s absolutely real.

          2. I agree that the distinction is artificial in nature, but it’s real in enforcement. That’s an effect of curation. For it to be temporary, and you could code (natively) on your phone or tablet, many things will need to change.

          3. Not *many* things, no. Maybe you should dig into how many coding apps there already are for iOS devices and look at what can already be done. My kids already build and run apps on their iPads, no other computing device involved. This capability will only expand over time.

          4. True. Even when you can actually code and compile native apps right on iOS devices, the elitist PC snobs will find some other reason to ‘prove’ that only their traditional PCs are ‘real computers’.

          5. I for one will call it real computer. I call netbooks real computers though, just not good ones.

          6. You’ve just proven that you won’t actually. You’ll say something like “Oh sure, it’s a computer, just not a very good one. It would leave me wanting, being the great power user that I am, it’s fine for some, but not for me, blah blah elitist blather blah blah.”

          7. I don’t like the term “power user” and I don’t consider myself one. I am a computer enthusiast, and I like enabling technologies. I’m also am a “curious user”.

            Anyway, the point is that we would not be arguing “whether” they are PCs, but whether they are good ones.

          8. They are already great computers for many, and not the right computer for others (such as you). That won’t change. The fact that you would even suggest there’s a debate about whether an iOS device is a good computer confirms your elitist attitude. The only consideration is whether the device is a good computer for the person using it, given what they need. Beyond that you’re just spouting elitist propaganda.

            That’s a strange comment about the term ‘power user’ since you’ve used it in the past and referred to yourself as one.

          9. There’s no question whether they are computers. They are.

            This thread is about technical hierarchy, and where they fit.
            There’s a clear distinction of mobile versus PC, artificial as it may be. I say artificial because the reason for the way mobile is implemented, especially for tablets, is indeed artificially limited.

            To some, like you, it’s wisely limited because it would be outside what the device can do well. That’s the exact same criticism on netbooks. Netbooks do it all, just not well. And that’s a justified criticism.

            For many, it’s totally appropriate to desire a good tablet over a poor PC. But they do remain distinct. You still need, at least a netbook, to ever program an Android tablet, and you need a Mac to program an iOS device. That makes one the master the other the slave from a tech POV.

            If I used power user in the past, it must have been in the keeping in line with the conversation. I don’t like the term.

          10. You can already create and use apps on an iPad. That capability will only expand. You really need to become more aware of what these devices can already do.

            You’ve used the term ‘power user’ in the past to set yourself apart as a user who ‘knows his tools’. And I called you on that BS more than once. People can and should change their views of course, it’s good to see you’ve come to view yourself as an enthusiast rather than a power user, since that is the truth.

          11. You can write native code on an iPad? Do tell…

            I’m not going to delve into what I said about power users, and in what context at the time. Very likely I wanted to dwell on another point and not rank users. Every user has the potential to become a power user, it’s a matter of desire. And permission….

          12. “You can write native code on an iPad? Do tell…”

            As I’ve said before, you’re making assumptions about things you haven’t even bothered to check. Do your own homework. There are varying levels of coding apps that allow you to do quite a lot, and even a demo of XCAB that shows complete end to end app creation and installation. There’s even a couple (possibly more) offline compilers for iOS.

          13. As I said, don’t look too hard. And be sure to have a specific set of requirements which disqualifies what you do actually find. Amazing that you’re only now even looking into this. My kids have been coding on their iPads since shortly after they got them in 2011.

          14. I’ll be sure to tell my kids to stop building and running apps on their iPads. After all, it isn’t possible, or it’s not the ‘right way’, not native enough, etc, so they really should stop doing it.

  2. Great observations John, I think the PATCH will be he ever-present inductor. powered by sweat and connected to any device. Glad you are back and hope well.

  3. John,

    Great, great piece. Thank you very much!

    Talking about touchscreen. There are some not so smart aka passive styluses, that just contain a capacitor and a coil that resonate with a particular radio frequency that a smartphone screen emits and gets picked up by it. This is how the touchscreen determines the stylus tip location. But we were talking about smartphones….

    It took 50,000 years to human race till they learned how to saw and make clothes out of leather of animals they killed. (Note to self: business people may not like this argument as an excuse why the project is late :)).

    Smartphones are great. I like them. Although I do not buy in the statement that by year xxx 100% of population will have them.I think Henry Ford also believed that every man will have a car by the end of 20 century and remember “640K will be enough for everybody”? Bill Gates. There will never be an end to human creativity. If not phones, people will invent something else and the percentage of adoption will even be greater. But not 100%….

    An irony of our age is that we all live in very different epochs across the globe. There are people in Africa or Asia who still live in caves and you want to give them all smartphones? If you look at human history the speed of progress measured in GDP accelerated as there were more people living on Earth and networks between them expanded. And I am not only talking infrastructure – roads, Suets channel, trains, cars, phone, Internet… With the invention of language and books, we can store knowledge and pass it from generation to generation. Animals can’t do that. They have to rely on DNA.

    Art also does not stand still. If you look at 14th century paintings they mostly depict motionless, unemotional figures – draped geometrical shapes, merely links to Bible stories. Bo-o-ring. Then the Renaissance came and we started to see some curve, real human forms, body language.

    Then France. Impressionism. Belle Epoque. Light. Photography. Emotions… Everything became so much more telling. Body language is also means of passing information, theater, movies,dance… I like to watch silent movies. How was it possible that we could understand what was going on without a sound?

    The point I want to drive home is that the technology is not the end within itself. It is not how GREAT it is, it is WHY do you use it. Human race is a gigantic living organism and I purposely do not say computer or a brain. Technology is just the means to benefit humans. Use it. Don’t be it. Then may be and only may be it can create a time and space. Even if it is just within our minds.

    P.S. I highly recommend to watch TED Video “History of the world in 18 minutes”. It is very informative. I know there is a Big History Project that came out of it, but I never had time to watch it.

    1. “I highly recommend to watch TED Video “History of the world in 18 minutes”.

      Thank you for this recommendation. I’m definitely going to watch it.

  4. Amazing insight, John. In the middle of the article, I started the Frax app on my iPhone 6+ to see with my own eyes the phenomenal computing power in my pocket!

  5. It’s weird to start App Stores with Apple’s. I distinctly remember app stores for my Palm Pilot 10 years earlier.

        1. So the ability to install software anywhere at any time is “pretty much the same” as being tethered to your PC?

          Is there no limit to the amount of historical cherry-picking and logical contortions you submit yourself to just to deny Apple any credit?

          1. Well if you must go there, the Play Store did untethered installations well before the App Store.

          2. According to obarthelemy that distinction is meaningless, since it’s all “pretty much the same”.

          3. Yes, pretty much the same. What counts is installable software, Whether installing the software takes 1 click on the device or 3 clicks on the PC next to it is not a sea change.
            Installation procedure was determined by the tech of the day.

          4. It seems you still can’t discern the difference between technical details and paradigms.

    1. It’s not who’s first, it’s who’s first to get it right (or to popularize it. Comparing previous downloadable options to the App Store is laughable. Before the App store, the most sophisticated geeks in the world struggled to download apps. After the App Store, children downloaded apps without being told how to do it.

      1. As a child I typed assembly code from DATA statements onto my ZX81, so you might be underestimating children ^^
        I don’t think (actually, I know first hand) that Geeks and non-geeks struggled to download a .zip, unzip it, then double-click it, which is the actual procedure to install an app onto a Palm (some came not even zipped). I understand a single click right on the device is easier, but saying “geeks struggled with installing apps” is… well, more laughable.
        The success = invention line is weird. Did Palm uninvent PDAs when they went under ? Kaypro luggables ? GRiD laptops ? All of those are mere footnotes in IT history now, but were successful… for a while ?

        1. “Did Palm uninvent PDAs when they went under ?”

          Palm would have had to invent PDAs in order to ‘uninvent’ them. Are you actually not aware of the PDAs that existed before Palm?

  6. Regarding the picture about the obviousness of Touch, the attached picture is from a m500 because it’s the first I found, but its forefather is from 1997. It took 10 yrs for capacitive screens to allow us to get rid of the stylus and use a finger instead, but all the concepts were there way before 2006. Color came later too ^^

    1. The difference between the tap-on-a-software-button interface of the crude Palm/Microsoft CE devices and the 2007 iPhone’s multi-touch, multi-gesture, desktop-class browser, desktop-class mail, graphics and animation rich interface is so VAST that you should be embarrassed that you failed to notice Apple leapfrogged over them by several miles.

      1. You’re confusing concepts with technical details.
        Also, how do you propose they implement multitouch on a pen-dependent touchscreen ? Using sticks ?

        1. Wasn’t all of this obvious after the first humans used multi-touch gestures in the sand to draw pictures? From that point on it was just the implementation of different technical details. Seriously, other than those first sand innovators, nobody has invented anything, ever.

    2. I watched a video called “everything’s a remix” that talked about how Gutenberg built his printing press from four disparate technologies, some of which were hundreds and hundreds of years old. Discoverers and inventors should be lauded. But innovators take the old and put it together in a new, more useful way. They too should be lauded.

      1. I’d argue there’s a difference between
        A) combining woodworking, paper, ink-making and lead-working into a movable type printing press.
        B) going from 3-clicks PC-tethered app installs to 1-click on-device app installs. After dev pressure, and a few months during which app installs were not offered (and the idea repeatedly turned down), then a few other months during which they were PC-tethered too, apparently.

        1. In more than one place you have characterized the App store paradigm as a click count. That is only one aspect of a larger whole.

          The iOS App Store didn’t just reduce clicks. It wasn’t merely a convenience. The App store changed how software was purchased, obtained, and installed. It brought trust. It also ensured a level of security.

          ‘Software from anywhere’ may give you a great feeling of “freedom” and “openess.” But it also gives malware writers and phishing schemers the same feelings.

          I’m just fine without and –or whatever CNET and the like call themselves these days– I’m happy to be immune from click-to-install banner ads or fly-by installers disguised as links. I know that software I install doesn’t contain some unwanted payload. I’m content because I know the iOS App store offers software only from registered developers who code within the permission limits granted by a restrictive operating system.

          Its somewhat understandable that you fail to comprehend this, as you clearly have no experience with it. But your over-the-top Apple bashing and extra-strength Apple-blinders have caused your innumerable missives to become tedious.

          1. “I know that software I install doesn’t contain some unwanted payload.” newsflash, you know wrong (what a surprise): Just one example of many.

            “permission limits granted by a restrictive operating system.” and by a restrictive commercial company. No innovative UIs (it’s forbidden to “think different”: follow the guidelines). No competing product. No antivirus or firewall (which, it seems, would be very useful at times). No encryption but Apple’s (thankfully, we know it is axiomatically un-backdoored and un-hackable ? Oh, wait…). No sex please, we’re Apple (are they British ?), etc

            I personally prefer to have the choice that Windows and Android offer: stay in the walled garden, or venture outside. I wouldn’t recommend it to 95% of users, but I think it’s important 1- to some today in practice 2- in theory for all over time. Unless you think your supplier is an infallible benevolent entity (more of those ! we need more of those !). Which has been proven not to be the case time and again, but some people just can’t wake up to that.

            Plus there already were safe appstores with simple install procedures (it went over your head, but that’s what the click count was about).

          2. What continually goes over your head, it seems, is that an increasing number of people don’t value what you value half so much as they value what Apple has to offer. And that has little to do with coolness, slick marketing, blinded or deluded followers, conspiracy theories, distortion of reality, etc.; but everything to do with value propositions.

          3. It’s not even about what I want. If we assume people want what Apple are putting forward (no “unwanted payload” and “security”, according to… “informed” ), they’re actually not getting it.
            And they’re severely hampered in their ability to substitute for Apple’s failings by the inability to install the usual security complements (antivirus, firewall…).

          4. “…severely hampered … by the inability to install the usual security complements (antivirus, firewall…)” Oh good god. Classic Stockholm Syndrome. The only thing my life lacks is anti-virus software! I must switch platforms immediately! No time to lose! Eveyone get out of the way!

          5. Look up the defintion of Stockholm syndrome. I don’t think it suits the dichotomy very well: “having the choice to stay in the walled garden or to stray out of it and the ability to add 3rd party security apps to the built-in ones” vs “”having no choice: walled garden, no exit, no 3rd-party security”. Who’s taken hostage ?

          6. How about you look it up. The primary comparison here isn’t between being in a hostage situation, and in a walled garden.

            The issue is being mistreated and being so dulled to that mistreatment that it is no longer perceived, and even defended.

            The mistreatment in view is such a lack of integrity in the OS and such a lack of concern by the creator of the OS that any attempt to head off the 99.99 of real security threats and issues — which curiously “happen” to be endemic to and applicable only to non-apple OS’ — is completely written off and given over to the complete responsibility of the end user; and indeed obfuscating those issues and blaming the user.

            That you are completely indifferent to this state of affairs as some “natural order of the universe” in which contempt should be levied against Apple users as poor uninformed hostages because their “captor” has dropped two balls in the last thirty years that amounted to a little embarassment or inconvenience for a few people for a few days, while your magnanimous “host” “allows” you all sorts of ways to defend yourself from what amounts to serious abuse and actual losses for millions of individuals and companies at his hands as he makes all the right sorts of “open” noises… kind of illustrates what informed is talking about.

            The idea is that there is unacknowledged, but actual, “mistreatment” (possibly incompetence) going on in the curiously undefended Android and MS camps, while its sufferers are only too glad to point gleefully at the outward facing guards at the Apple camp, calling them prison wardens.

            Your FUD might make you feel better; but the truth is that OS X and iOS are really no longer obscure (if they ever were); they are extremely attractive targets, and no Apple user is naive enough to assume otherwise.

          7. Do you have any actual safety comparison between Apple’s walled garden and Android’s ? I’m not sure who’s being mistreated. I’m sure who doesn’t have a choice about it.
            The Android and MS camp aren’t undefended: they’re about as defended as the iOS camp. And they have exits from the defended zone, for the more adventurous.

          8. That’s clever. Nice (typical) deflection.

            I’m sure I had the choice to buy an iPhone or an Android. I’m pretty sure I have the choice of more and better apps (if you don’t count dubious copies).

            I am sure from all sources in the aggregate (articles, hearsay, anecdotes, rumors, news, reports, studies, stories, you name it) that 99.99 percent of the real issues that anyone should be concerned about (malware, data loss, identity theft, breaches, viruses, bad apps, etc. etc.,) are not on iOS.

            I’m sure neither you nor I has a choice about that. Good for you if you have escaped what is far more inevitable for you than for me.

          9. I don’t have the same faith as you in articles, hearsay, anecdotes rumors and news. Do you have any actual data aside from those ?

            If you don’t, at least we learned what you base your opinions on !

            Vis a vis the uninstallable keyboard that afflicts one Android OEM, you can disable it, which is a standard feature of Android, or use KNOX to verify it. (edit or antivirus apps probably catch it)
            Vis a vis the security flaw that had Apple approve apps that can steal any other apps credentials, that afflicts all iOS devices, what did and could you do ?

          10. Personally, I rejoiced that the potential for this exploit would require a targeted attack. Such targeted attack potential is no worse than any other possible zero day in iOS land, and so I am much safer than I would be if I had chosen Android.

          11. The last thing I read about the keyboard thing (which may have been FUD, I can’t remember the source), was that disabling it did not keep the keyboard from trying to update itself if malware presented itself as an update. “That afflicts one Android OEM”: only the most celebrated model that is supposed to handily compete with the iPhone.

            I’m shattered. Thanks, for letting me know Apple’s review process isn’t 100% perfect all the time.

          12. To be more precise, here is Google’s 2014 security report:
            0.15% of PlayStore phones have a potentially harmful app.

            I’m not aware of Apple publishing such data. Actually, the only thing from Apple I’m aware of about their security security stance is when they told their support people to neither confirm nor deny a malware attack, and to refuse to help: .

          13. Yes, you focus on the words “malware attack”. Usually (I say “usually”, but, like you, I’m only aware of a gleeful reporting of some kind of attack) the seriousness, implications, number affected, vulnerability, infectiousness or spread (if any), losses incurred, inconvenience, etc., etc., are several orders of magnitude less…

            …but, sure, let’s go with “malware attack”, and assume that Apple’s response was some egregious example of great hubris, money-grubbing and blatant hypocrisy, rather than what it probably was …a one- or two-day breather until the media realized that they had stirred up a storm in a tea cup and they quietly went away. That gran and pops looking for a phone they would actually use didn’t need their spotty nephew pulling on their elbow and saying, “see, I told you”, when the Apple employee said, “yup, we’ve even got malware, too”.

            Anyway, I’m impressed that you are impressed with Google’s notion of “potentially harmful” and its general sandboxing strategy for apps installed under Android.

          14. First, thanks Kizedek.

            While recognizing the futility, I’ll attempt a response.

            obarthemy, seriously. That you would characterize Mac and iOS device users as being “severely hampered” indicates that you are so immersed in your sad state of affairs that you believe your situation is universally true. That a Windows user cannot enter the internet without security software is the baseline understanding that you have for the world; that you defend this as being a “positive” feature that iOS lacks, displays your Stockholm Syndrome.

            This may be the dumbest argument you’ve ever posted.

          15. A two-year old story. Man, you sure know how to dig yourself deeper.

            How many major exploits effecting thousands or millions of iOS users have occurred since that article? How many Spambots? I don’t need a link, that answer is zero.

          16. Congrats. Your predicable strawman example of how the iOS App Store hasn’t achieved 100% bullet-proof security has completely negated all historical facts. Note that neither I, nor Apple, claimed it was infallible.

            I, too, am happy that you have your preference for Windows and Android. Your world is perfect for you.

          17. Mmmmm… how many ACTUAL (not potential) major exploits affecting thousands or millions of walled-garden Android or Windows Mobile have occured, ever ? How many spambots ?

            You’re the one rising the security FUD, which is a purely theoretical one, and then tuning it down selectively for Apple ?

            To sum things up, there’s no data whatsoever on iOS’s walled garden being safer than Windows’ nor Android’s. Actually, there’s no data whatsoever on iOS’s safety. And there are no 3rd-party tools to improve on Apple’s efforts, which have been proven to be lacking. And the company has already shown it chooses to hush up things and not help during malware outbreaks.
            Where’s the problem ?

          18. Yup. No data. And Apple’s efforts have been “proven” to be lacking. The proof is in all that no data.


          19. Reading comprehension 102:
            1- there’s no data, which is suspicious.
            2- various security researchers *have* found holes

            I never said “the proof is in all that new data”, you’re making things up.

          20. “Suspicious” lack of data somehow supports your argument. Like Apple has “god-like powers” to suppress coverage.

            You’re amazing. That ISN’T a compliment.

          21. I am not raising the FUD. It may or may not be FUD, but I’m mentioning it because it’s out there in the media. You asked for some report, and I reply that the aggregate is, from any every partisan or non-partisan source, overwhelmingly about non-apple security issues. And most details would suggest (where details can be replied upon), that the few issues affecting iOS are an order of magnitude less serious. The obviously “FUDDY” items lacking details are about Apple from partisan sources; while all sorts of media and sources seem to go into all sorts of detail about Android issues.

            I merely suspect that there is some kind of correlation between the noise (FUD or otherwise) and the number of incidences (though not magnitude, because every story about Apple is blown up out of all proportion while everyone else is given a pass for showing up).

            Walled garden: perhaps the issue isn’t necessarily Window’s or Google’s “walled gardens”, it’s the freedom to go outside them — in which case, you don’t have a “walled garden”, you have a sanctioned curation (such as it is) and non-sanctioned.

            It’s automatically tuned up for Apple. What’s there to tune down? How has Apple’s efforts with iOS “proven” to be lacking, and what exactly has it hushed up? Outbreaks, really?

            Perhaps issues affecting jail-broken phones, or proofs of concept in a competition where the hackers had to finally be given physical access or allowed to give direction to the user to click on a specific link, in order for the hacker to get some limited ability to do “something”. Yay, Apple takes a hit. Scandal that they don’t immediately tell the world how many millions are “vulnerable” (Hint: all of them — if someone comes and takes your active phone out of your hand after you enter the passcode).

      2. “But innovators take the old and put it together in a new, more useful way. They too should be lauded.” -Falkirk

        “Getting a Genius Award in Hollywood is like being called thin at Disneyworld” -Seth McFarlane

  7. “An entire generation is growing up without knowing what ‘I don’t have local admin rights’ means. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter”

    Typical Ben Evans: he’s got it exactly in reverse: an entire generation is growing up w/o knowing what **having** admin rights is, means and implies.

    1. “he’s got it exactly in reverse: an entire generation is growing up w/o knowing what **having** admin rights is,”

      The generation is growing up without that knowledge because that knowledge is of no use to them. You sound like the cranky old guy who complains that kids today don’t know how to fix a car. They don’t. Nor should they have to.

      1. Does not mean that all car manufacturers should seal the car so that even those that know how, can’t work on them.

        1. In practical terms this is already the case. You can’t work on your BMW. You would need specialized equipment, training, and certification. You could easily void your warranty as well, doing non-certified work on your BMW. It simply isn’t practical. Modern cars are effectively locked down and only certified professionals work on them.

          1. And that can be a very user unfriendly policy…
            “Sorry, you changed your own tires, we will not honor your drive train warranty”.

          2. Changing your own tires is not working on your car, not even close. Modern cars are not user-serviceable, that’s the reality.

      2. I’m just pointing out that the quote is factually wrong, not editorializing on the topic of the quote ?

        If I had to discuss the topic, that’s a whole other discussion, and apparently you’ve already 1- made up your mind 2- chosen ad hominems over discussion 3- and definitive statements w/o argumentation. I’d say it’s not 100% good vs 100% bad, but nuanced. You won’t believe it but there *are* issues with a single private corp deciding what people can install on their devices, how they can configure them, and able to add/remove OS parts, tools, and apps at will, and do anything with your data. Just imagine, if you can, that it’s anyone but your beloved Apple with that control. On the other hand, the first thing I used to do on my parents’ PC is create a non-admin user account for them.

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