The best sign of technology maturity is this – it becomes invisible. It’s there in our everyday lives, but fades into the background, it requires less attention and it forms part of our everyday ambient environment. Like electricity does. It’s just there, in the background waiting and acting on our behalf with the minimum of attention required.
The announcement of the Apple HomePod is more significant than a music player, or a competitor to Alexa and Google Home. It’s the start of the shift to ambient computing. A world where computers and the internet are no longer a thing that we go to, or attend to, or dig out a device to access, but something we literally live inside of.
- We talk to it, and it serves up answers.
- We talk in general and it listens and learns our language and desires.
- We do things and it observes our behaviours and interacts to our advantage.
- It’s just there, in every room.
- It becomes the operating system of our lives, without us having to caress a screen or ignore the people around us.
It might seem that Apple haven’t really given us an innovation. I mean lets face it their HomePod is late to the market and is mostly about playing music in the home. But I think they’ve just dealt a stealth move doing less. I think they’ve got a better chance at getting in more homes than Amazon and Google. A harmless little music player which looks nice, and allays the fear of big brother. That my friend is the big trick. Get in the house first, widen the scope later.
This is the start of a wider shift to the ears and mouth replacing the eyes and fingers as the killer interface. It might mean the world around us gets a littler noisier, but it might also mean we can start to look each other in the eye again.
Here’s a closing thought for businesses who rely on SEO as part of their strategy. Once we start asking the computers in our life for a recommendation, we better hope they ask by brand, or we’re the first verbal answer the device gives back. We are very quickly going to move to a world where being on the first page was good, to one where being the first, and only recommendation is vital.
If you’re interested in making yourself future proof, come join me in Melbourne on June 20th and get your mind around ‘The Lessons School Forgot’.
I’ll be doing a talk on how to hack your way to a radical future, and answer all the questions you might have about finding a path to independence. It’s going to be a great night.
See you then, Steve.