The Smartphone Revolution (or, You Ain’t Poked Nothin’ Yet!)

There are people all around you poking their phones! They pet them and caress their perfect smooth screens in public places!

What are they doing? Why? When will it stop?

When I was young, we learned how to properly have a pet. We were blessed with imperfect policing of the beaches and our Giant Schnauzer, Dominic (an Italian Schnauzer), spent his years playing in the sand. We poked him and caressed his perfect smooth coat!

Everybody loved him!

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

When I was young, it took a long time for Japan to take over Henry Ford’s automobile industry; slowly, over many years car companies evolved, to a point where, when I was fifty years-old, Ford and General Motors could have died, but instead proudly took bail-outs from W..

These days people come over my house and sometimes walk right past the magnificent Penelope without paying proper notice; it’s a little agitating! Things have changed. Fast!

The entertainment industry is only being born, the automobile industry is finally shining under the umbrella of electricity, and the technology industry is eating itself.

Out of the ashes of technology has risen the phone.

FAST CHANGE

My cat is very cute and well-behaved. I was just holding her and she was like a stuffed animal. I know I’ve told you about Cleopatra Penelope Tigerlily Wigglesworth, the adorable silver and black tiger that lives with me, but one thing I don’t think I told you is she’s electronic. Made in Japan!

That’s not really true, although with today’s technology, I bet I’ll be petting and poking a talking robot cat during my lifetime! And you guessed it: technology is the topic today!

I’m sorry I couldn’t write a completely cat-free technology piece, but reality set in, and, frankly, the technology didn’t actually inspire me to start writing. So I fooled myself into writing this deep piece about Chinese competition in the U.S marketplace, and how eBay, while it’s not always cute or pretty, acts as an easy-to-read barometer of today’s business climate, by sitting down and penning some cat stuff.

But now, we’re fully underway!

INDUSTRY ON THE LINE

The phone was already famous; we used to use them to have girls not talk with us regularly as kids. It was a right of passage. When the phone rang it meant something.

These days you probably have, like me, turned the ringer off.

The word “phone” today means anything but phone. What all those people are doing poking at them is a vast experience of splendidly efficient applications connecting the world so directly you might quickly forget about calling a girl.

Sometimes, it occurred to me just before I hugged the cat, industries eat themselves. The vine is there but the fruit is dead. A big change is happening today. You can buy a 50-inch television at Wal-Mart for a few hundred-dollars, which a few years-ago went for 10-grand. Except now they’re lighter, use less power and have brains.

Many are made in China. Politicians are talking about China. My advice is, they better talk fast, ‘cause the rate of change these days is fast. In the midst of a global economic mindset in the U.S., there’s not much room left to play with technology made at home.

Your car and favorite guitar were probably made abroad … and easy to buy on eBay. With the fast pace of change, eBay has become a barometer of technology’s health. Things are cheap!

Many of us, oddly I think, have seen rises and falls of vast technologies during our lifetimes. A ride in a Lexus or the new Tessla proves the point handily, but the car industry has evolved so slowly we’ve taken it all for granted long before we’re sitting in the driver’s seat.

A better, faster example than the stodgy Tessla is the thing the passenger is poking, a phone, an old-fashioned thing that’s disrupted our worlds so quickly we don’t just appreciate it, we might not realize what we’re actually holding in our hands!

NEW GAME STARTS NOW!

Remember when computers were invented? I do!

Remember when buying a computer was like being in a horse race, because the best Dell you could get at CompUSA was obsolete the following day when a faster, cheaper model was pitched to you via your old-fashioned mailbox?

Things moved fast!

Back then, though, manufacturers thrived, as they played the hardware-software keep-up game with an enthralled PC-using public. Bill Gates got rich. Remember? It happened fast!

The manufacturers purposefully held back the good stuff, the emerging new, fast chips, so they could keep selling existing inventory. Remember? You never had a fast-enough computer, no matter what!

YESTERDAY VERSUS … ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?

When the iPod turned into the iPhone turned into the iPad … which happened fast … and with healthy competition from the world’s smartest business, Google … the industry took an important, critical turn, which is happening now.

Finally, it’s today again!

Today, I have a small cat, which is sufficient for my needs. I have a television, but the cat is often more interesting.

But today, I am guilty of poking not only Penelope, but my phone, those little mini-computers everybody loves.

I do it too!

When I turn the TV on, it works very well. It was made in a foreign country, I think, but I’m more interested in the shows on the TV than where the thing was made! On the TV, sometimes I see old-time TV shows. They have horses and old wall phones with long cords; Back To The Future and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; families in the fifties with nerdy haircuts and dogs.

But when I turn on my phone (the modern one, the pocket-sized computer, video camera, social management system and gaming console I sometimes carry) I see modern times!

HOW DOES THIS THING WORK?

Phones and tablets are certainly an impressive technology advancement. But more, they’re critical in the turning point we are on the crux of for two specific reasons: because they work well (unlike the Dell in your attic) and because they replace so many existing technologies so well.

Back when Apple was just a sprout, the purposeful manipulation of the release timeline for technology kept us, as consumers, consuming. Nowadays, though, manufacturers have finally, and smartly, stopped doing that.

The use of high-quality components in “smartphones” is a big reason people are poking them so much. They work really well. I have a four-year-old Android phone I use daily that has considerably better hardware than the Apple computer I’m typing this on. When you fire up your phone, it doesn’t disappoint; for the first time ever these little computers are being overbuilt.

The high quality of manufacturing of smartphones is critical to the vast changes in the technology industry, reinforced by the Internet and changes in the music and moving-pictures industries that bring the world into the palm of your hand!

NINTENDO’S FINAL BATTLE

Remember when we used to read newspapers?

When an industry doesn’t “see it coming” it can be a fascinating once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for critics, like me, and a field day for entrepeneurs.

Remember Christmas a few years-ago, when Nintendo’s newest game console was sold out, again, and everyone needed one? Today … and it happened fast … those consoles, priced about the same as a smartphone, are obsolete.

Not only does the phone and tablet easily replace Nintendo, it does it with killer hardware and social sharing connected to Facebook, a connection that’s used to grow the industry. The games themselves, each of hundreds available at the push of a button, smartly commissioned by ads and revenue sharing, are free to own and can mostly be played for free.

Gaming consoles are dead. The phone is the clear winner!

GOLF BUSINESS

With the social network vibe installed, the games are thriving and the industry, without the need for special hardware, is growing. It’s really astounding.

I play two games on my phone-console, to give my eyes and reflexes a workout. Playing can be a lot of fun with the immersive 3-D stuff you’ll find! One is “Golf Clash.” It’s well done, with graphics and physics that can be jaw-dropping. I’m connected with friends who also play, and we gift each other coins for free play every day. The more friends you turn on the better! There’s a club where strangers connect to maximize the free playing!

This is an example of a big technology, the smartphone, disrupting another big technology, the gaming console, where millions of people are swinging with new clubs!

ARE YOU HAVING FUN YET?

The most impressive thing, even with a touch screen high-tech handheld game and accurate action, is the number of people who play. The social aspect is powerful. When you play a little, you develop a “winning ratio,” which is based on real play in real time against real people all over the world. Opponents are not hard to find!

I currently have 720 trophies; my ranking in Golf Clash. Not too bad. But not so good, either, when ranked against the entire world of gamers. The game shows me, even though my cousin Peter thinks I’m a good player, my rank is 457-thousand globally. I’m a half-million positions from the top. There are 456-thousand players better than me! Each of them is potentially spending a few dollars for better balls and incentives built tastefully into the game. There’s nothing better for an industry than the spending of millions of real dollars every day, in a way that seems so innocent it’s almost like it’s not happening.

But it is happening. The handheld gaming industry is real!

Look out Nintendo’ ‘cause my phone’s a-buzzin’, and I can see this disruption coming. I will dutifully continue to follow the money, by playing games for free!

JOIN OR PERISH!

Because smartphones replace so many things, the technology industry is on its knees. In the U.S. and Canada there are smart companies making smart use of the disruptions, while regular old TVs will probably go on double-sale at Wal-Mart for Black Friday. If you don’t want to wait, get one from China on eBay with free shipping.

While they last!

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