This is a repost of a comment of mine in the Communities Dominate Brands blog on a post by Tomi Ahonen about the iPhone 5SE. It has been heavily edited to fix spelling and grammar errors, and links have been added.
I do however strongly suggest reading all the comments on Tomi’s post to get a feel for what pushed me into putting my Futurist hat on this late at night!
There’d been the usual war games between the iSheep and the Fandroids about when Apple or Android was going to crash because [insert appropriate company name here] wouldn’t be able to adapt to the Next Big Thing. This got me thinking about what the next big thing could be…
The NEXT BIG THING
There’s been a lot of discussion here about what the Next Big Thing might be, and whether or not Apple will be able to adapt to it. I don’t know precisely what the next big thing will be, but I do know approximately what it has to be. So does Apple. So does Microsoft. So does Google. And Samsung…
At this point I’m going to take a wide side trip into Evolution. Neanderthals and Denisovans to be precise. Almost everyone has heard of Neanderthals. Denisovans are another relative of ours. They are slightly more closely related to Neanderthals than they are to us.
Why are we talking about extinct Hominins? Because it matters. I’m going to refer you to the Discovery Channel website which contains the recent news articles I’m using as a base for this.
The three species, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis, and Homo Sapiens Denisova are different, but closely related. Much like tigers and lions can mate to produce Ligers and Tigons, the three Homo species (and possibly other homo species – this is still being debated) are close enough for interbreeding can happen. In fact anyone who is not of pure sub-Saharan African origin has some Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA (and note that there has been enough migration back to Africa over the last 5,000 years that they have some of it too).
The vast majority of the human race are Hybrids.
Why does this matter in an article about Mobile and the Next Big Thing? Because of the locations of the surviving Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in our genome.
DNA is conserved if it performs a useful purpose. In Europe and other Northern climes for example a lighter skin colour is a survival trait. In Africa a darker skin colour is a survival trait. That is a gross generalization, and I’m not going to get into the specific reasons. I’m not trying to teach a course in anthropology, just to cover some very basic concepts. If a certain trait is useful, the holder of that trait is more likely to survive, breed, and pass on that trait to their children.
Certain areas in the genomes of those who have remnant Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA are clear of those remnants. One of those areas are the testes (had to get sex in here somewhere) which indicate that males who had remnant DNA in their testes were possibly mules (sterile) and therefore that DNA did not get passed on, or that the remnant DNA didn’t offer any advantages.
Another area without remnant DNA is our SPEECH CENTRES. Notice the capitalization? This is important.
We can infer that since those with remnant Neanderthal and Densiovan DNA do not have any of that DNA in the areas of the genome associated with speech, that Homo Sapiens Sapiens had an evolutionary advantage which allowed more of those without Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA in that area to survive and breed than those with it. Obviously speech is an important part of our evolution.
Back to the Present
Coming back to the present, what is the biggest industry on the planet? Mobile. What does mobile allow Homo Sapiens Sapiens to do? Communicate faster and better than ever before.
It does this with Speech, SMS (again, speech), MMS (again, speech), reading newspapers online (speech), reading blogs like Communities Dominate Brands (again, speech), browsing Social media sites like Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIN/MySpace (again, speech).
If you track innovation, or more precisely, the spread of usage of new inventions over the ages as shown by archaeology, you’ll see that the pace of innovation is closely tied to, guess what?
The invention of papyrus made gave the Egyptians advantages over the older civilizations which used clay tablets. The invention of parchment gave the European civilizations advantages over the Egyptians (and put most of the papyrus manufacturers out of business).
We go on through the invention of paper, the invention of moveable type, the invention of the telegraph, the invention of the telephone, the invention of the mobile phone, the invention of email, SMS, MMS, etc.
Each invention made speech easier, quicker, and gave it more reach.
Going back to Evolution: What sets humans apart from every other species? Our ability to communicate.
You can see the base of this advantage in our close cousins, the Chimpanzee and the Bonobo have some advantages in communications over other animals, and use communications in hunting, gathering food, and socializing. Their ability to communicate allows them to breed and survive. They may be subject to predation by large cats, snakes, and other jungle denizens, but the only real danger to them is the cousin who is better at communication. Us.
But we are so very much like them. Chimpanzee, Bonobo, and Human all are very, very social. Archaeological evidence shows that Neanderthals and Denisovans were also extremely social (and so were the Hobbits aka Homo floresiensis).
Humans are so social that many would kill rather than give up their mobile for any length of time. We have this need to be social, and the only way we can be social with PEOPLE WE CANNOT SEE is via a communications device. Most often, a mobile.
Why is Mobile so Important?
I’ve worked in several different industries. I absolutely loved my last job, designing and selling catalytic converters. Yes, there were times I cheerfully could have killed management and the people I worked with. There were other times I could have kissed them!
No job is perfect. But it was a great job. I was selling something that made a difference (for reference I’m fifty-nine, and remember how bad smog was in Toronto in the early sixties).
There are a lot of catalytic converters in the world. In almost every country, every new car you buy will be fitted with one. Is it a huge, huge, business? Yes. Is it as big as mobile? Hell no. Automobiles aren’t as big as mobile. While we love our cars (I’ll never forget my 1974 Camaro Type LT with a 350-4bbl, 4 speed transmission and positrac 3.83 rear end), we don’t look at them a hundred times per day. We don’t use our cars as alarm clocks. We don’t use our cars to watch videos (we’d damned well better not do that while driving!) We don’t have our cars in our pockets.
What will be the Next Big Thing?
So what will be the Next Big Thing, the thing that will replace Mobile?
I don’t know. I do know however that whatever the Next Big Thing is, it will have to allow us to communicate better than Mobile, to Socialize better than Mobile, and it will need to be more accessible than mobile.
It might be an implanted computer with cellular capabilities. Might be. That might allow us to communicate faster and better. But it might be a total disaster as well. Can you imagine getting a video call while driving…
But that’s what Apple, Google, Microsoft, and everyone else is working on. Designing a way of communicating that is better than what we have today. That will be the NEXT BIG THING.
Wednesday March 30, 2016