Alexander Graham Bell could never have imagined this. Neither could Elisha Gray, for that matter. But the epic battle between Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:AAPL) for control of just about everything in your life is something neither telephone inventor could have fathomed.
Before long, your smartphone or the technology that runs it will be in charge of pretty much whatever it is you’re doing, wherever it is you’re doing it. At home, on the job, in your car, on your person, even while you’re asleep -- wherever you go, there it will be.
Your work, play, entertainment, security, transportation, location, navigation, health, comfort, money, identity, commerce, food, and of course, your communication will be controlled via Google Android or Apple iOS. No Satya, I didn’t forget about Microsoft Windows. Love what you’re doing lately but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I don’t know about you but I’ve got mixed feelings about all that.
As a consumer, it’s always best to have choices, but at some point tech simply became far too complex. What started out as millions of VCRs flashing 12:00 turned into a nightmare of proprietary, incompatible devices with complex features and confusing instructions nobody has time to mess with.
Sure, a few products came along that made life a little easier. GPS, Tivo, iPod and iTunes helped. So did standards like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But still, it’s a bit much trying to figure out how to use and control all the different gadgets in our lives. Who’s got patience for that anymore? Not me, that’s for sure. If it isn’t intuitive, forget it.
Besides, there’s so much more you can do to leverage all that technology, information, and infrastructure if everything could just sort of magically converge and talk to each other. I mean, why can’t it all just get along?
Well, we’re finally getting there. All you’ve got to do is choose a platform and you’ll have a consistent interface across the board, not to mention an ecosystem of gazillions of compatible apps, hardware and accessories. You’ve got to admit, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
So what’s the downside?
Oh, you know, little things like a hacker exploiting that inevitable security flaw and getting control over pretty much anything and everything you’ve got. Once it’s all linked and everything talks to everything else, all they have to do is crack the operating system and, voila, they’re in.
Think Sony hack where all their secrets, emails, messages, employee data, and intellectual property were laid bare. Except now, you’re Sony. Imagine a hacker taking control of your car, home, bank accounts, communication, health information, and identity. That scary enough for you?
Were I a conspiracy type I might be concerned about privacy intrusion by Big Brother, but that doesn’t worry me a fraction as much as Google knowing more about me than God and blasting contextual ads at my eyeballs 24x7. Today you only get spammed on a computer screen. Soon enough, that will change.
Maybe the scariest thing is not being able to escape. Escape what? Everything. The ads, the online world, anyone who wants to get hold of you. Your boss. Your Ex. Some loser you’re trying to avoid. Someone you owe money to. The cops. Your friendly neighborhood stalker. Even worse, telemarketers. Now that’s chilling.
Think about it. A hundred years ago someone had to go to your house or place of employment to find you. Fifty years later they could call you, but only where there were telephones. Today we all complain about having to be on 24x7. Our work-life boundaries are shot. Now imagine no boundaries.
If that’s not enough to get you thinking, how about this: computers crash. When our real and virtual worlds are seamlessly integrated, what happens then? Does your life crash? Does everything just become a blue screen? Time to cue the Twilight Zone music.
Back to reality, our brave new connected world will likely have both benefits and shortcomings.
As technology advances and everything becomes smarter, linked and controlled by a more intuitive interface, life will get easier. But it will come at a price. Today we have too much information, communication and intrusion. We have less and less privacy and security. Expect those trends to continue. Everything comes at a price.