Take My Wallet
I often joke with a friend of mine about when we’re going to to have all of our media, news, and email accessible in our heads. No battery or other hardware required. It's not yet clear how far we are from a Minority Report level of instant, internal access to everything on our desktops and in our pockets. But I for one am dreaming of more consolidation of my various multimedia and online services.
In a normal day, I use a blackberry with 3 email accounts, an iPod touch, a home laptop, a work laptop. I have a huge ring of keys, an electronic door pass, and a bulky wallet with exactly zero dollars in it. There are too many ways for me to text, too many ways for me to listen to music, and too many choices for storing my content. I’m not a small town guy but if technology is a vehicle for anything, it must at least consider simplicity as end goal. Too often the volume of services and gadgets churning through the industry creates a barrier to such simplicity.
I’m not discounting competition - without AT&T we don’t have Verizon - and I’m not discounting the need for trial and error in discovery, because its hard to nail something the first time. furthermore, I’m not advocating for a world in which platforms and APIs can’t be built off of, integrated, and shared. Flexible innovations lend themselves to a simpler world where instead of having to go to your site to use your cool new product or feature I can use it from mine (hello RSS, Tumblr dashboard, and Google Maps). But isn’t innovation at its best when a company comes along that proves an inefficiency and creates a clear product solution that hasn’t existed before but should?
To me an overarching tenet of technology, akin to simplicity, is efficiency - what can you make that lets an everyday person do something cheaper, faster, and easier, that they’re happily aware they are doing cheaper, faster, and easier. Venmo is a perfect example. One of my bold predictions a few years ago, which perhaps isn’t so bold anymore, was that paper money would cease to be the standard of daily monetary exchange within five years. It's a hassle to take out money, carry it around, use it, and then take out more. Venmo has solved this problem in a way even credit cards could not. Make payments directly from your phone to people, restaurants, and hopefully many more places soon. So simple, so necessary, creating a new efficiency from a process that’s been inefficient for everyone, forever.
Not every new product can fill as clear-cut a need as Venmo, but they should all strive to. before the tech industry becomes a derivatives trading secondary market at the hands of bubbling start-up mimics and uber-competitive hardware manufacturers - a place where you need a new plug or a different player for just about everything - let’s take a step back and see how easy it would be to have everything on or in a few select places.
Please, take away my wallet before giving me another charger and carrying case!