Monday, August 17, 2009

"My Dad Will Never Buy a Computer" -- Heart Monitor

Seven years before my Dad passed away, he said he would never buy a computer. The last 5 years of his life, he delighted in using his computer to follow stock prices, his bank account and his grand children. Yesterday, two friends told me that their parents would never buy a computer. My immediate question was "Do they have a cell phone?" This inquiry was quickly discounted because it is hard to appreciate how cheap, different and useful the cell phone of next year will be when compared to the cell phone of today.


Last night, I struggled to come up with the key reason that "no computer people" will succumb. My first idea was that they will ultimately have no other choice. For example, an avid newspaper reader will ultimately face the question, do I get an electronic reader or do I stop reading the newspaper; or, since my eyesight is not so good anymore, do I get a reader with the font dialed up or do I fiddle with a magnifying glass; or, since my eyesight is virtually gone, do I get a reader and let it read to me.

My second idea was the use of a mobile device to watch ones favorite TV programs. It seems that while no one watches "much" TV, everyone watches a lot of TV. Sports fans say they seldom watch TV but, when pressed they admit to watching many games.

If TVs were light weight portable tablets and if one could touch a player on the screen to immediately learn his batting average and all other details, the avid fan might want such a TV. The avid fan of soap operas might appreciate the ability to touch a "story line button" and get a recap of shows missed. And, wouldn't it be nice if mobile TVs were also automatic TV recorders, making all the shows missed available anywhere and everywhere.

This morning, while I was thinking about the difficulty of convincing people that the underway Internet BOOM is huge and compelling, I read about a new app that puts Tom Tom GPS software, including turn by turn instructions on the iPhone. The software costs an extra $100 but three years ago it was common for folk to pay an extra $3,000 to get this feature on a car!

The incredible truth is that there really is going to be an "app for that", where "that" is almost everything. The fellow who is into local weather will install a few instruments in his backyard and download a weather app to his phone. He will know every detail about the weather, including a special notice of significant changes in the barometer. He will be able to share the local weather with others such that very precise TV maps will show exactly where the rain is falling.

One person will succumb for a different reason than the next but all of the reasons will be aided by the reduction in cost. The cost of data delivery has been falling rapidly for decades and the rate of decent has been accelerating. New systems, being deployed this year and next, will cut the cost of delivery by 40% or more. New systems are even cutting the amount of electricity used to send data by 40% or more!. The combination of a falling electronic delivery price and rising physical delivery price is a powerful combination. It means that one person after another is seeing their indifference curve broken through. The person uninterested in acquiring an electronic reader for $199 might be very interested in the product at $49. The secret that the product sellers have no reason to share is that the readers will ultimately be free of charge, in exchange for advertising eyes and subscription revenues.

Lightening Strikes

Just after I concluded that "no computer people" will succumb for hundreds of individual reasons, the thought hit me that the long held dream of most every man is suddenly at hand, the super duper extra powerful remote control. Sure enough, one can find screen shots at Gizmodo.com of the app that turns your phone into the most powerful remote control ever built, including TiVo functions!
The remote control idea is tongue in cheek, but how about the most powerful video baby monitor ever produced? Or, how about the heart patient who wears a Bluetooth connected heart monitor? Indeed, since we are talking about the elderly and since there are scores of health care applications being written, the probability is high that many people will buy their first computer phone for health reasons. There was a time when the idea of mandatory seat belts was anathema to liberty; can you imagine a time when all heart patients are required to wear transmitters? I submit that a lot of people who say they will never buy a computer will wear a computer!

Please, do not immediately think the above is pie in the sky, thirty years from now, stuff. There are 65,000 applications already written for the iPhone and 1,000 new iPhone app projects were started in July and Google Apps are gaining on Apple Apps. Many applications are being completed in 2 months or less. Only a couple of weeks ago, a study showed that an implanted blood pressure monitor/transmitter saves lives. With this new technology, the patient, doctor and EMT will all know that the patient is having a heart attack immediately; prompt treatment often being critical to survival.

So, the reasons to buy a computer phone range from: 1) I want a super duper remote control and baby monitor, to 2) My old phone is dead and all they sell are computer phones, to 3) My life depends upon it.


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