Its that time of the year again. Where we sit down and look back over the last 356 days to try to make sense of the chaos that is is ‘Linear Time’. And it has been quite a memorable year, both personal and on the field of technology. A year where some had predicted that it would be the end of times and in many ways for some technologies .. it has been.
I think it is safe to say that the realm of the desktop is officially over and the period in our lives where we could quite clearly draw the lines between a computer, a phone, a tablet and a laptop, can safely be reserved for the history books. Watching the technological evolution this past year I have seen boundaries fall. I have seen the clear lines of segregation between personal data and cloud data fade away, watched tablets and laptops merge into one , seen privacy and personal data fade away . I have watched the number of emails in my inbox decline and have started talking to my phone. However the one fact that continues to amaze me is the death of the early adopter.
There used to be a time where I was part of the technological elite. The happy few that sported devices and services that where largely unknown to the general public. Where the specs of my hardware or the customisation of my software setups would be lightyears ahead of the general population of “norms”. That time has come to a close.
Case in point was an event I went to a couple of days ago. My hairdresser is quite a geek. Their quaint little salon lies in a small town that can be considered the veritable ‘Anti Cupertino’ of Belgium. An ageing population, low level of schooling and beautiful rolling fields of orchards make this a beautiful area, but also a digital “blind spot” where adaptation of technology is something that moves at a slow pace. So when she decided to have a lottery event where every customer who spent at least 15 euro got a chance to win an iPad .. I frowned a little.
But the day came it was time to draw the winning ticket. In the evening she opened up her salon and invited everyone who had a ticket for the big raffle. I attended more as a curtesy and was very sceptical about the turnout ? Who would even show up ? This was a rural town , these was an ageing clientele.. they would not be interested in winning and iPad ?
3 hours later, when the raffle was over .. I had chewed, swallowed and digested those words. Over a 100 people turned up for the event on order to ‘win an iPad’. Many of them had come to the salon several times (and sent over their family members as well ) to collect as many raffle tickets as possible. I had spent the last 3 hours involved in a couple of high level tech conversations about where technology was taking us. How big were tablets going to be, the fall of the desktop era, the unification between mobile devices and computers, the falling fame of Apple, stagnation of innovation and patent wars. My audience (and very vocal counterparts) in these conversations ? Women between 35 and 65 years old. Born and raised in this very rural town with direct affiliation with the technology industry except that they where a consumer.
2 years ago this kind of conversation would have been impossible. It would have never dreamed of explaining the difference between ARM and Intel processors to a pensioner. I would have never expected that pensioner to reply with the question “Why don’t we use Arm processors everywhere”.
But somehow this evening was very real .. a sign of the times that the realm of the geeks has just hit the mainstream. I saw people sporting phones more advanced then mine. A housewife of 49 told me that ‘Since Steve Jobs died, Apple hasn’t been the same” and it wasn’t at CES .. it was at my hairdressers.
So with great curiosity I look towards 2013, where the age of ‘Consumerisation’ is going to go on and on. Where the fat underbelly of the “Norms” will ride upon the technological plains that used to be reserved for the Geeks and the early adopters. Sure, we are still ahead of the curve .. but not by much, and they are catching up … fast !
So let me close off with wishing you all the best in the upcoming year ! Wether you are an experienced geek or a budding ‘norm’ who has only dipped his toe into the great digital ocean of progress. We have interesting times ahead of us !
I wish you all .. a fantastic 2013.
* Norm : ‘Normal citizen with no tech job or interest”
Links : Kapsalon Hairdreams.