We’ve never had it so good

It has been and continues to be a fascinating time to have one’s head in technology.

The fight over consumer hearts and minds rages on. It actually seems slightly otherworldly that the Google empire has replaced that of Microsoft as Apple’s sparring partner in this arena, but perhaps only for someone that has watched them as they’ve all scaled their technological heights. Now they both cover front pages with their technologies, and stand toe-to-toe on what has become a multitude of platforms, but they are most certainly not alone.

With the release of Apple’s iPhone4 this week, touting, amongst other things, the long-awaited multitasking support, eyes look back to Google to spy their next step in the race to the consumer’s pockets. They’ve some way to go if the queues are to be believed, and the figures still sit on Apple’s side of the fence with regards to usage, but we all stand to win with the honed edge that such competition typically brings. Even Microsoft with their recently announced Windows 7 phone looks like a potential contender. Their OS technology looks particularly attractive, even if the rather crass throwing of money at developers is somewhat less so. There’s no doubt they’re right to try such tactics, these days the value is in the software as much as the hardware, and they will never be able to compete unless they have apps that people will want to use. Whether developers can cope with a three-horse mobile market long-term (for some on top of the desk-based ones already supported) is another question entirely.

The iPad has succeeded in creating a furore around the oft-maligned tablet space, so much so that not only are the usual third parties attempting to get on the bandwagon, but Google are creating a whole new operating system of their own for it, and RIM are looking to release their own incarnation before the end of the year. And all before anyone has figured out why consumers would even want such technology. That’s some mind games these people are playing, though there’s no doubt it’s working. Regardless of the success or failures of the tablet space, the experimentation has its own intrinsic value, and if the tablet in its current incarnation doesn’t win, something that follows and builds on it almost certainly will.

Even the humble TV, stalwart in the corner that all the furniture looks towards, no longer resembles the archetypal black box, and is being poked and prodded from all angles. I find it ironic that the last ten years has seen me dragged off to sit in front of the PC, only to now be dragged back again with the content and presentation managed by some of the hottest technology companies on the planet. Some even took another bold step and questioned if Apple might actually develop their own TV set to go with their AppleTV and Mac Mini products. One wonders if GoogleTV would be able to run on them…

The other major upheaval right now is actually going on online, and yet again sees the ever bolder Apple in the fray. Ever since the original iPhone came out of the gate lacking Flash support, the masses poured their hearts out. Some came out on Apple’s side, “Flash is buggy!”, “Flash is bloated!”, “Flash is a security risk!”, others came out on Adobe’s side, “Flash is universal!”, “Flash is flexible!”, “Flash is creativity personified!”. They were all right of course. Some will know, or think they know, the real reasons Flash was avoided on Apple’s mobile devices, but I doubt that it is the people that are actually doing the shouting. The simple fact is, Apple can do what they want. They aren’t connected to Adobe in any ways that force any kind of commitment. They’re both businesses doing what they feel is right for themselves and their consumers. Even articles eschewing the wonders of Adobe’s technology only seem to be able to argue things from a developer / communicator standpoint. Yes there are a lot of Flash developers in the world, and I will be the first to console them on the lessening of Flash’s import, but really, in twenty years time, will anyone care? How about ten years, or perhaps even five? Consumers will hardly notice even now. Sure they may see an ever-rarer lego brick when browsing the internet on their iPhone/iPad, but I know many are thankful that the garish flashing has disappeared, and YouTube is racing to convert content away from the proprietary format, and if some views are to be believe, HTML5 will replace it very quickly whilst having one eye firmly fixed on the future. There’s surely more value in focusing on that, along with the resultant opportunities such a move opens up to us all, than focusing on Adobe’s bank balance?

I guess that’s the price we all pay for being in the technology industry, consumers, developers and tech giants alike; things simply never stop. Today’s enemy is tomorrow’s friend, today’s Facebook is tomorrow’s MySpace, and it really is anyone’s guess as to who’s technology will ever win out. VHS beat out BetaMax, Google overcame pretty much everybody, television is on the internet, the internet is coming to the television, and I’m writing all of this on a touchscreen device with a glass plate for keys.

But you know what? We’ve never had it so good!

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