OK here is one of those posts whereby I pontificate on the future of technology in a particularly non-academic but tried and true way: by observing what the kids are doing.
Here is what the kids — specifically my kids — seem to value above all else in their information technology needs. They value convenience and with that, syncing. They aren’t unusual in valuing convenience. It usually dominates when it comes to consumer value except from the IT experts who value performance over convenience. But my kids will gravitate to what is easy.
These days they get frustrated when their data isn’t where they think it should be. The whole notion of carrying data around on a separate device seems absurd to them. They haven’t had to do it. We had to carry books, then computers, then storage and there was a time some of us tried to carry around files on iPods (I’m looking at you John Quiggin). The kids don’t do that. They think the data should be somewhere and accessible. This is why they like Google Docs rather than Microsoft Office. For Google, the data is there. The whole notion of a desktop email client is foreign to them. And the photos should be on Facebook. They even apply this to accessing parental knowledge and will Skype us from another room rather than walk over to collect that knowledge. They find it just too onerous to carry around weighty data.
My point is that if we extrapolate from all this, there are going to be some big dividends to the first company that figures out convenient syncing. And not just data, but apps and other stuff too. The whole notion of carrying around a separate credit card that stores your information is something that won’t sustain itself. And yes, they’ll give up some security for that convenience.