I’m on a plane flying between Texas and southern California and, as is often the case in these situations, space is limited. Making things even more interesting, the jet stream is really moving. The seat belt sign is going on and off so much, it’s almost pulsating. So much for night skies being more calm. The amazing thing is that thanks to advances in mobile technology I can be productive, even though I’m confined to a small square of space and am dealing with a bumpy ride—all by utilizing the capabilities of my smartphone (except, of course, when taking off and landing). Right now my personal device of choice is the Motorola BACKFLIP (big fingers don’t like little bitty keys), but I’m waiting, and not too patiently, for even more powerful and capable smartphones to be made available.
These innovations in technology allow all of us to materially change the way we do business. If this flight had WiFi available, I could check email, surf the web, or even watch a movie while in flight. (In-Stat numbers show that at the end of 2010, about 2000 commercial aircraft offered in-flight WiFi, almost triple the number that offered it at the end of 2009). Having this kind of access moves the productivity and entertainment bars dramatically toward true ubiquitous access. Though I don’t actively hear it, WiFi connectivity, in theory as well as practice, makes it possible to participate in web-based meetings, document sharing, and even voice calls—all on a smartphone. Not that you’d want your fellow airplane passengers conducting his or her meeting while flying (time to get out your noise-canceling headphones), but these capabilities mean you could do a lot more than you’re currently doing.
Being a bit of a space exploration nut, I can foresee manned flights to an asteroid or to the moon where astronauts use handheld devices to conduct their research and stay in touch with earth that are equipped with more computing power than the laptop-sized computers that run the space craft itself.