Did you have a Mattell Auto Race (above, 1976) or a Mattell Handheld Football (1977) electronic game growing up? Coleco also made a number of handheld electronic games. (BTW, Coleco stands for Connecticut Leather Company!)
If you played handheld electronic games growing up, you helped start the mobile revolution we’re enjoying today in ultra books, phablets, smartphones, wearables, and now the Internet of Things.
In the 80’s we started flirting with mobile business devices… really no more than glorified calculators. It was really in the mid-90’s that things picked up. Did you ditch your DayTimer for a Palm Pilot? Know what an Apple Newton was? Did you have the then-awesome Windows Mobile 6.5 phone?
- Handheld electronic (and video) games
- Mobile phones
- Digital organizers
- Smart phones
- Convertible touchscreens
- Phablets (smart phones with REALLY big screens)
- Mega and mini tablets
After all this time, are we there yet? Has the vision painted for us in the 60’s by Gene Roddenberry in Star Trek finally been realized? (See the original Communicator device, pictured below.)
Yes. And No. On one hand, I have more computing power in my pocket than supercomputers had 20-years ago. Unfortunately, however, I still cannot talk to it in natural speech and have it respond likewise in a useful fashion.
We’ve actually gone backward somewhat. My Windows Mobile 6.5 had really useful voice commands that could control much of the functionality on the phone. It couldn’t really talk back to me, but that was fine by me at the time.
Today, my Windows Phone 8.1 talks to me quite well. I love Cortana… I think she’s amazing and is going to be a defining feature for Windows Phone. Unfortunately, however, she (and her wicked step-sister, Siri) is really only good at understanding my speech for the purpose of searching the web at this point. There are some voice commands, but it’s not nearly at the level I had in Windows Mobile 6.5 – over four years ago.
So, how did the electronic games of yesteryear lead to a mobile revolution? The real trick was learning to miniaturize the technology. At first we had circuit boards with large transistors and LEDs… not LCDs… LEDs. Our “pixels” we’re almost the size of an eraser on a pencil! And sound on the devices was comprised of beeps of various pitches and lengths.
|MSI nMOS chip made in 1977|
When the first large-scale integration (LSI) circuits appeared in the mid-1970’s a true revolution in micro computing was born. For the first time, thousands of transistors could be compressed to fit on a chip that fit in your hand and be combined with many more on a circuit board. For a good feel for what miniaturizing computer technology was like you should watch the first few episodes of Halt and Catch Fire, the new AMC series… where they work on developing one of the first laptop computers… LCD screen and all.
Fast forward 20 years to 2004… the release of the Nintendo DS. A marvel of modern computing and miniaturization, the DS and its successors the DSi, 2DS and 3DS have owned the handheld video gaming market for the last 10 years and show no sign of stopping despite continued competition from Sony with the PSP and more recently with the Vita. There were others – they were rapidly forgotten. The only credible threat to the Nintendo DS is likely the device we all keep in our pockets all day… our smart phones. With instant access to free and paid games and graphics and sound that now exceed those on most gaming systems, how long will it be before the era of the dedicated handheld gaming device ends?
In any case, I’d like to personally thank Mattel and Coleco for getting the ball rolling. I’m a life long gamer and am looking forward to seeing if the next 20 years is as exciting as the last 20 has been!
|My scared cat / gatto (Photo credit: Paolo Margari)|
“Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!”
That’s what I tell messaging engineers and consultants that aren’t building their cloud skills. The days of vanilla on-premises e-mail systems are numbered, and if you’re not building your skills you’re falling behind.
Just in case you’ve been asleep for the last twenty years here’s what has happened in e-mail:
- Starting in the early 90’s – only a few people had e-mail, mostly through universities.
- By the mid-late 90’s – dial-up internet providers started providing IMAP / POP3 e-mail services that you would access through client applications like Eudora or Outlook. At this point, e-mail was mostly used by businesses.
- In the late 90’s – ISPs, Yahoo and AOL began providing access to e-mail for customers through rudimentary e-mail web portals. E-mail became popular with more tech savvy home users.
- By 2007, Web 2.0 was a reality and Google had released Gmail. They began wrapping more powerful web functionality around the service. The accessibility provided by a friendly and easy web interface further popularized e-mail… most people had e-mail accounts by 2007.
- In 2009, after seeing Google successfully launch a hosted e-mail product, Microsoft released Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS). It was essentially Exchange 2007 hosted on some servers Microsoft owned. The value proposition of BPOS being designed for business was pitched to customers.
- In late 2011, after upgrading Exchange to 2010 and re-writing the software to better tailor it for mass hosting, Microsoft upgraded BPOS to Office 365 and began including rudimentary Office apps hosted in the cloud as well.
- In January of 2013 Microsoft upgrades Office 365 again and the Microsoft Office suite took a full leap in to the cloud, providing much enhanced functionality:
- After aggressively pursuing certifications and jumping the toughest regulatory and compliance hurdles, Office 365 began accelerating adoption both in business and in people’s personal lives.
- Offering the full Microsoft Office software suite further distinguished Office 365 from competitors.
- The only hosted e-mail service with a true hybrid deployment model, Office 365 now defines the hosted e-mail experience for large enterprises.
So, its plain to see that cloud-based e-mail services are only going to expand. The demand for hybrid deployments that include both on-premises and cloud-based systems is increasing as customers realize that they can move the workloads they are comfortable with putting in to the cloud while leaving others on-premises in traditional hosted systems. If you’re an Exchange e-mail administrator and you’re not preparing for hybrid and cloud-based systems you’re in trouble.
The cost / benefit equation is an easy sell to IT executives and vendors like Microsoft are making that value proposition to your leadership daily. You can only use excuses for not moving for so long before the cost savings drive some of your e-mail in to the cloud. You’d best be ready for it soon or you’ll be looking at a new career when you cannot adapt.
|Commodore 64 (Photo credit: shaniber)|
Speaking of excuses, lets talk about companies that aren’t investigating how cloud can enhance their business. Want to be like Polaroid or Kodak? They failed to see the digital camera revolution. How about Palm Pilot and Commodore? When was the last time you saw one of either of those?
In my research for this article I came across a great list of excuses to NOT innovate. I’m going to quote just a few excuses from Mitch Ditkoff’s article “The Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating”. I suggest you give the full article a read… its hits very close to the mark I believe. Here are a few of the excuses he found:
5. We won’t be able to get it past legal.
6. I’ve got too much on my plate.
13. There’s too much bureaucracy here to get anything done.
14. Our customers aren’t asking for it.
15. We’re a risk averse culture. Always will be.
34. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
89. We need to focus on the short term for a while.
91. What we really need are some cost cutting initiatives.
95. Maybe next year.
Do any of those sound familiar? If your organization is using any of those excuses to not go to the cloud or at least evaluate how portions of cloud could be implemented, you should be looking for a new job. If your employer doesn’t use cloud you aren’t developing cloud skills. If you’re not developing those cloud skills how will you find your next job? Employers are asking for cloud skills on top of everything else. Just go look at the LinkedIn (14,590 postings with “cloud”) or SimplyHired (5,484 “cloud” jobs just near Kansas City) job boards and search for “cloud.” You’ll see.
And if you are that company using compliance and regulations to not move to the cloud… you know who you are. Are you using excuses like being in a highly regulated industry like healthcare, financial services, power & utilities? Check out “Office 365: A snowball’s chance in hell?” for a look at how some top utilities are taking a second look at the cloud.
If you are hiding behind these acronyms you need to take another look at cloud. At least with Office 365 (see the Office 365 Trust Center) I know you have good, compliant, hybrid solutions:
- FERC / NERC,
- EU privacy
In a future article maybe I’ll talk about how hybrid solutions can meet the needs of highly regulated industries. Yes, it IS possible to comply with regulations and just move certain workloads to the cloud.
Are you ready for the cloud? Time’s up. It’s here.